CHICAGO – Darwin Barney was always confident his hard work would eventually help him become one of the best second basemen in the majors.
He just didn’t expect it would happen in only three years. Barney, originally drafted as a shortstop by the Cubs in 2007, transitioned to second base at Triple-A Iowa in 2010 with shortstop Starlin Castro quickly rising through the minors. On Tuesday, Barney’s effort was validated when he won the National League Gold Glove Award for second baseman, the first of his career.
Barney’s .997 fielding percentage led all big league second basemen, and he tied the single-season MLB record by playing 141-consecutive games at second base without an error to match Placido Polanco’s mark set in 2007.
“It’s something you come into the season working towards, but it’s not something that I thought the results would be there as quickly as they were,” Barney said. “I’m extremely happy about it. There’s a lot of competition out there obviously, and I’m really surprised it ended up happening for me. It’s an exciting night for me.”
Barney’s Gold Glove is the first by a Cubs second baseman since Ryne Sandberg won in 1991. First baseman Derrek Lee was the last Cub to win a Gold Glove in 2007.
While some people within the baseball community were surprised won the Gold Glove over the Cincinnati Reds’ finalist and three-time winner Brandon Phillips, Barney had the most defensive runs saved by any player in the NL with 28. Barney’s 3.6 defensive wins above replacement led all NL players, regardless of position.
“I can’t sit here and say I’m better than him or anything like that,” Barney said of Phillips, who won the last two Gold Glove Awards. “I don’t think it has anything to do with that. I think I had a good season and I think either of us could have won it. Fortunately for me, I did.”
Barney credited Sandberg, his manager for two seasons at Iowa, for honing his skills at second base.
“Ryno was really one of the guys that kept me confident in my ability and the fact that there was a spot for me in the big leagues some day,” Barney said. “We worked numerous times before games at second base, even when I played shortstop every day.”
Barney isn’t satisfied with his defense despite committing only two errors in 731 total chances through 1,270 1/3 innings. ,
“You’ve got to continue to work on your routine plays and being consistent,” Barney said. “You can’t be satisfied. Winning a Gold Glove doesn’t necessarily satisfy me for the future, but it makes me very proud of my season. But it also makes me hungry to work and try to get another one some day.”