Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 4/10/12

Brandon Allen has been set free. With Daric Barton eligible to return from a stint on the disabled list, the Oakland Athletics designated Allen for assignment. The 26-year-old started two of the Athletics’ first four games but now finds himself on waivers — free to be claimed by any team. While Barton’s return likely meant that Allen would lose playing time, he is far from a franchise first baseman. And this may have been the wrong move for the rebuilding A’s.

Barton has been successful in the past, but the 26-year-old is far from ideal at first.  He has shown the ability to take walks at an elite level — and play terrific defense — but he provides virtually no power from a position that demands it. Last season, the average first baseman  posted a .439 slugging percentage — the lowest number at that position since Barton entered the league. Even in his best year, Barton’s slugging percentage was just .413. While Barton’s ability to take a walk is valuable, pitchers adjusted by pounding the strike-zone against him and were confident that he wouldn’t hit for enough power to hurt them. Outside of 2008 — when a ridiculous 12.1 UZR boosted his 5.1 WAR — Barton has barely rated as a passable first baseman.

The problem is that Oakland’s current first basemen are a bit of a motley crew. The team already had Barton, Allen and Chris Carter last season; but the team chose to sign on-base machine Kila Ka’aihue during the off-season. Carter and Ka’aihue both posted strong numbers throughout their minor league careers, but they never got regular playing time with their former teams. While Carter might have been seen as a first baseman of the future, his stats are very similar to Allen’s. Due to the glut of castoffs and similarly skilled players at the same position, the A’s released Allen knowing they could get similar production out of the others.

Allen was projected to be the worst hitter among the A’s first base options, according to ZiPS.

Players AVG OBP SLG wOBA Daric Barton 0.241 0.351 0.359 0.319 Brandon Allen 0.212 0.310 0.375 0.304 Chris Carter 0.268 0.312 0.416 0.311 Kila Ka’aihue 0.226 0.329 0.373 0.311 2011 First Basemen 0.263 0.338 0.439 0.337

As you can see, ZiPS projected every Oakland first baseman as a below-average option. While Allen and Carter look like similar players on paper, ZiPS gives Carter a much better projection. Seeing how Allen had the lowest projection among the group, it’s hard to be upset at the A’s decision to let him go.

The main question here is whether Barton should be starting. Barton’s .319 wOBA is the best among the remaining three A’s first basemen — and nearly all of the value comes from his ability to get on base. While Carter and Ka’aihue project slightly worse, their .311 wOBAs really aren’t far behind.

What sets Barton apart is his defense. He’s already projected to be the most valuable offensive first baseman on the team, but he’s also regarded as one of the better defensive first basemen in the majors. Ka’aihue and Carter would certainly provide more power, but neither carry strong defensive reputations.

While none of them seems like the answer at first base, neither Ka’aihue nor Carter has received enough playing time in the majors to write them off. Barton might be a useful player, but he shouldn’t be starting on a contending team. And by the time the A’s are ready to contend, Barton isn’t likely to be on this team.

At the same time, Barton has the best track record of the bunch. While he isn’t fully recovered from an off-season shoulder injury, Barton could be a useful trade chip if he can rebound to his previous offensive production. If the A’s moved Barton at the deadline — or he struggles with his recovery — they’ll see if their other options have a future with the club. If Barton struggles — and the A’s can’t find a takers at the deadlin —, they would still be better off playing Ki’aihue or Carter in the second half. Playing Barton right now seems to be the smartest option, but if he’s still on the team in August, Oakland needs to find another option.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Elvis Andrus steals home against Padres

Seahawks went on Hawaiian vacation to ease SB tension

Robert Kraft: Deflategate 'most overblown story' in NFL

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Jim Tressel once sent touching note to family of Michigan OL

Sony cut 'Concussion' scenes to avoid angering NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ryan Clark: Trent Richardson is 'worst RB of all time'

Report: David Feherty won't be back at CBS Sports

Warren Moon: RG3 needs to start taking the blame

Lovullo: I don’t see Hanley Ramirez playing left field again in 2015

Judge Berman’s one-sentence order repeats Deflategate decision timeline

Ishmael Adams suspended indefinitely following arrest

Ohio State downplays revenge talk ahead of Va. Tech rematch

WATCH: D-backs pitcher fails on quick pitch attempt

Ex-FSU WR Snoop Minnis trolls rival Florida in great way

Suspicous photo may lead to drug test for CC Sabathia

How the Houston Astros went from garbage to gold

Jack Eichel plans to move in with teammate Matt Moulson

Report: Bills GM 'went rogue’ in cutting Fred Jackson

Terrance Knighton irked by Redskins-Kardsashians comparison

Connor Cook on not being named Michigan State captain: 'It stinks'

Danny Amendola’s advice to those on roster bubble? ‘Control what you can’

Dallas Cowboys: Rookies to watch

Apple reportedly sought exclusive rights to new Bill Simmons podcast

One of Clemson’s 1981 national championship trophies broke

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

Manfred digs Shoeless Joe a deeper grave

Why Mike Trout ain't right

The Opening Drive: Jamal Anderson warns UM fans before heading to Salt Lake City

Best and worst MLB players in August

RG3 blames intern for liking Instagram post trashing owner

Four most surprising roster cuts from NFL teams

Raiders cut Trent Richardson

Caroline Wozniacki smoking cover of ‘Rhapsody’

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker