Padres Spotlight: A Review of Clint Barmes’ Career


Since Clint Barmes was signed on December 3rd of 2014, the battle for shortstop has been a hot topic for fans of the San Diego Padres and readers have been inundated with predictions of how Barmes will fare in 2015.

Yesterday was Barmes’ 36th birthday, so today I will take a look back at his long and storied career.

Hopefully after reading this article you will learn something about Barmes that you didn’t already know.

You may or may not know Barmes was born into a baseball family, on March 6th, 1979 in Vincennes, Indiana. His uncle Bruce “Squeaky” Barmes was a career minor leaguer who had five at bats in the majors. Barmes stayed in Indiana to play his high school ball and attended Lincoln High School also in Vincennes, Indiana. After High School Barmes spent one year at Olney Central College, before transferring to Indiana State University.

It was at Indiana State where Barmes really began to shine. He lead the Sycamores in batting average at .375 had 93 hits, 18 doubles, seven triples and 10 home runs. He also scored 63 runs and drove in 37 while swiping 20 bases. These stats led to Barmes being voted All-Region and all conference and after just one year at ISU being drafted in the 10th round (287th overall) by the Colorado Rockies.

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After being drafted, Barmes played three seasons of minor league ball. He was twice an All-Star, once in 2002 with the Carolina Mudcats of the Southern league and again in 2004 when he was with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the Pacific Coast League. After his minor league career was finished (it might not be done, he has been up and down his entire career including 2014) he compiled fairly decent numbers, slashing .284/.341/.419 according to

In 2005 Barmes stuck with the Rockies on opening day and immediately made an impact hitting a game winning, walk-off home run off some scrub for the Padres, Trevor Hoffman.

After the home run Barmes went on to compile one of the greatest rookie months of all time when he hit .410 with 4 home runs and 14 RBIs in his first month as a big leaguer. These numbers helped him net the National League Rookie of the Month Awards for April of 2005.

The future was nothing but bright for young Barmes, until disaster struck.

That disaster came in the form of a freak accident, when carrying venison, given to him as a gift by teammate Todd Helton, up the stairs at his Colorado home. He became impatient waiting for the elevator and decided to take the stairs. While climbing them he slipped and fell, breaking his collarbone

Joining baseball’s long list of freak accident sufferers Marty Cordova (burnt his face at a tanning salon), John Vander Wal (tore the cartilage in his knee shoveling snow)  and Sammy Sosa (spraining the ligament in his back during a sneeze) just to name a few.

Now the once favorite to win the 2005 Rookie of the Year award had to sit out and when he returned later that year he just wasn’t the same. Finishing his rookie year with a .289/.330/.434 stat line; only good enough for 8th place in the 2005 National League Rookie of the year voting.

Unfortunately for Barmes, his slump continued and the rookie that started his career with such promise suffered even greater in his sophomore year, hitting .220/.264/.335.

Due to his horrendous sophomore campaign, Barmes was told the following Spring Training he would be competing with a highly touted prospect for the starting role, Troy Tulowitzki.

Barmes hoped he would bounce back but continued to slump that spring and ended up not only losing his job to Tulowitzki but missing the big league club entirely.  He opened the 2007 season in the minors and spent most of his season with the Rockies Triple-A affiliate.

A freak accident and a two and a half year slump might make some men consider retirement, but that was not so for the resilient Barmes and in 2008 Barmes came back with a vengeance.

Stuck behind Tulowitzki at shortstop, Barmes set his sights on taking over second base and won the job out of Spring Training. I have to wonder at that point if Barmes knew how well he was going to play in 2008.

That season he slashed .290/.322/.468 and hit 11 home runs despite missing a few weeks on the disabled list. It looked like Barmes was finally turning the corner to becoming the player he might have been during in his rookie season.

Although he saw his average dip in 2009, he started hitting for power. Barmes started the season off great, hitting nearly .300 (.296 on June 19th) before falling back into a slump. He hit .225 the rest of the year and finished with a .245/.294/.440 slash while smacking 23 long balls.

Barmes set career highs in almost every category, making the Rockies believe that they had a double play duo that could last for years.  Unfortunately the success didn’t last, and in 2010 Tulowitzki was injured causing Barmes to move back to shortstop where he struggled to hit again.

By the midway point of the season Barmes had once again been replaced, this time by Eric Young Jr. and spent most of his time as a defensive replacement.

By the end of 2010 his time in Colorado was over.

The next chapter of Barmes’ career began on November 18th, 2010 when he was traded to the Houston Astros for Felipe Paulino. In the Spring of 2011, Clint Barmes was once again derailed by injury when he was hit by a pitch on March 25th causing him to break a bone in his left hand. As a result, Barmes lost his job to Angel Sanchez and effectively ended his time with the Astros.

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Barmes, a free agent for the first time in his career, signed a 2-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his first year as the Pirates shortstop he struggled to hit, slashing .229/.272/.321. The lack of production again caused Barmes to lose his starting role to a rookie in 2013, this time it was Jody Mercer’s turn to take his job.

However, Barmes managed to carve himself a nice role with the team as a utility player. Playing all over the infield and doing well enough for the Pirates to sign him again for the 2014 season, where he continued to excel as a utility infielder.

Over his three years for the Pirates he hit just .224/.271/.314 but his spectacular defensive play was enough that new Padres general manager A.J. Preller made him his first acquisition for the Padres in what would become a very busy off-season.

Time will tell what the Padres chapter of his baseball career will hold but Clint Barmes will always have a place in baseball history.

Some people will remember him by what could have been and the freak accident. Others will remember him as a utility infielder who played great defense.

I will remember Barmes as the definition of professionalism, resiliency and a team player. Hopefully he will continue to display these attributes as he opens 2015 with the Padres.

Happy Birthday, Clint. I hope you had a great one!

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