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Fantasy Baseball: Is He For Real - Daric Barton

Daric Barton was penciled in as the starting first baseman for the Athletics this season, if for no other reason than because he can field pretty well, and wasn't going to destroy the team with his bat. It feels like Barton has been up for a long time in the Majors, having made his debut in 2007. He received a lot of hype after playing in 18 games that season, and hitting .347/.429/.639 with 4 HR and 8 RBI. He came into the 2008 season as the prohibitive favorite to start at 1B for the Athletics, and proceeded to reward them and fantasy owners with not one, but two stinker seasons in a row.

2008: .226/.327/.348, 9 HR, 47 RBI in 446 AB
2009: .269/.372/.413, 3 HR, 24 RBI in 160 AB

However, in 2010, with the job fairly secure, he has gotten off to a hot start. In 13 games so far, Barton has hit .317/.473/.415, with 7 RBI, 6 runs, and a 13:5 BB/K rate.

He's not a player you are likely to target for standard leagues, but for AL-only and keeper leagues there is the potential for him to have a lot of value.

The question at this point, to me anyway, is can he keep this up?

Barton is currently hitting .317, with a .351 BABIP. He currently has a walk rate of 22.4% to a strikeout rate of 12.2%. Both of these numbers are quite a ways off of his career numbers of 13.3% and 19.5% respectively. That said, Daric will turn 25 later this season, and could very well have finally figured it out as a hitter. Zips is projecting Barton as a .271/.371/.421 hitter with 11 HR, 79 R, and 66 RBI the rest of the way. For both AL-only and keeper leagues, even at a position as deep as 1B, he is someone to keep an eye on. The part that makes me believe he may be for real this time comes down to the pitching he has been facing. Of some concern is the fact that he has no homeruns yet, and only 4 doubles, but I think that he is going to provide a solid batting average, and could very well meet those ZIPS projections.