10/04/09 2:07 AM EST
Barmes credits Tracy for his turnaround
When second baseman struggled, manager always had faith
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
But Barmes will finally get that chance to play in the postseason this year, as he has bounced back in a big way to make his mark as Colorado's everyday second baseman.
"It was exciting back then just to witness it and cheer my teammates all the way to the World Series, but to be on the roster and have a chance to help my team on the field means a lot more to me," Barmes said. "So to get that opportunity is going to be cool."
Barmes credited manager Jim Tracy, who replaced Clint Hurdle on May 29, for giving him the confidence to rebound this season as he has set career highs in games played, home runs, RBIs and runs this year.
"He's a players' manager," Barmes said of Tracy. "He's really stuck with me. In my opinion, he's turned my career around."
Tracy has struck with Barmes through thick and thin this year, even though he's seen his batting average seesaw from a high of nearly .300 in mid-June to his current batting average of .246 through Friday.
But Barmes, who entered this season with a career .263 average, has helped make up for his low batting average this year with a career-high 23 homers, 76 RBIs and 69 runs while playing in 154 games.
"For the most part, I feel like I've had a solid season, but I don't believe I'm a .240 hitter," Barmes said. "I may also not be the home run hitter that I've shown this year, but I've always been a gap-to-gap hitter with a little bit of power. But for whatever reason, I've battled with my approach the second half of the season."
So while Barmes has struggled at the plate in the second half of the season with a .206 batting average, he's at least been consistent defensively at second base, where he's regarded as one of the best defensive second basemen in the league.
But even that's been an area where Barmes has continued to improve as he was converted from shortstop, where he played almost exclusively before Troy Tulowitzki took over as the Rockies' starting shortstop in 2007.
"Defensively, it's been my best season," Barmes said. "I'm just reading the ball better and trying to be in the right spot with our pitching staff getting a lot of ground balls, I feel like it's been a real positive."
And of course, Barmes made what Tracy called "maybe the best defensive play that's been made all year," when he made a game-winning diving catch and throw to close out Sunday's 4-3 win over the Cardinals. And while there's still some doubt whether the ball came out on the play, it still stood as a game-ending double play that proved crucial for the Rockies.
But while Barmes acknowledged it was a big play that helped get the Rockies into the postseason, he again gave Tracy the credit for rallying the team to the playoffs this year, despite being 12 games under .500 in early June.
"We've played loose and yet aggressive, and he preaches that constantly," Barmes said. "We wouldn't be where we are without him. It's been a lot of fun."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.