"A lot of it was positioning around the bag along with positioning pre-pitch. It all goes together. Along with that, it was just putting in the hours and accepting the mentality of trying to be perfect every day."
--Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs second baseman, talking about his improvement as a fielder.
Barney, 26, is in his second full season as a Cub. With only one fielding error in 112 games, he is widely considered to be the best defensive second baseman in major league baseball. He made the switch from shortstop to second base only two years ago. He is four years older that the Cubs' current shortstop, Starlin Castro, a rising star in his own right. Without the switch, Barney would be playing behind Castro. This way, both young stars can start. Along with their first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, 23, this young Cubs' infield trio has the makings of a great combination.
Barney last made an error on April 17, 2012 against the Miami Marlins. With the help of Cubs' infield coach Pat Listach, a former American League rookie of the year (1992), Barney has improved greatly. Barney and Listach study hours of game film to determine hitters' tendencies and help Barney expand his range through thorough pre-game planning and in-game anticipation.
Are you working on your fundamentals this hard every day?
Excerpt from "At Second, at Least, Cubs Are a Force", Benjamin Hoffman column Keeping Score, nytimes.com (8/19/2012).