New Detroit Tigers C Tucker Barnhart: Known for golden glove and packing a punch

Detroit Free Press

Welcome to the better side of the Ohio-Michigan divide, Tucker Barnhart.

Barnhart, a 30-year-old catcher, was traded Wednesday to the Detroit Tigers from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor-league infielder Nick Quintana. He won the 2020 Gold Glove, his second, and figures into platoon split with at least one other catcher.

Though he’s known for his defensive abilities, he has been a near-average hitter in the majors for most of his eight-season career. Barnhart hit .247 with seven home runs and 48 RBIs in 116 games for the Reds last season.

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The Tigers played multiple catchers in 2021, either due to performance or injury. They retain most of those options — namely Eric Haase, Grayson Greiner and Jake Rogers, who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery — but wanted to boost their defense at that position.

That’s where Barnhart comes in. Here’s more on the Indiana native making his home in yet another Midwest state:

So who is Tucker Barnhart?

For those who don’t take in much National League baseball, he’s a defensive specialist who’s flashed some pop in his bat at times over the years. He was a 2009 10th-round draft pick by the Reds as a high schooler out of Brownsburg, Indiana.

Barnhart debuted in 2014 and has played at least 81 games each year since 2015, except for the shortened 2020 season. His best offensive campaign came over 121 games in 2017, when he had career highs in doubles (24), batting average (.270) and OPS (.750).

But he’s known better for his performance in the field.

Not just one Gold Glove…

In 2017, not only did Barnhart hit well but he won the NL Gold Glove over Buster Posey and Yadier Molina. Barnhart led the league by throwing out 44% of attempted base stealers, becoming the first Reds catcher to win the honor since Johnny Bench in 1977.

He blocked 661 pitches from a young Cincinnati pitching staff that season as well.

Barnhart won the award again in 2020 after leading the NL with nine defensive runs saved and going errorless over 36 games. He allowed just two passed balls.

His skills as a receiver and his agility behind the plate were praised by a Twitter account named after longtime catching guru Jerry Weinstein.

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He’s come up with some big hits

Barnhart figures to draw the most start behind the dish — provided the Tigers pitchers are comfortable working with him.

And batting lefty makes him an intruiging option off the bench. He has 10 home runs in the eighth inning so he can come up with some big hits. Here are a few:

He broke a 10th-inning tie on the road vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks in April:

He broke a 10th-inning tie in Atlanta in 2019:

And there was the 2020 game against the Kansas City Royals, who he’ll get to know much better:

We have those feelings, Tucker. Be sure to bring a bucket for the first time you get stuck in I-94 traffic while trying to catch a flight.

Last but not least there was the much more adorable hit in a backyard back in 2020. Against another lefty, no less!

Follow the Free Press on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Tyler Davis can be contacted at tjdavis@freepress.com or on Twitter @TDavisFreep.

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