Los Angeles Dodgers fans have been complaining about Austin Barnes all year. Most were confused when he was given a $7 million extension before last season because he hasn't positively produced for the team during his tenure dating back to 2015. In 2023, he has a .392 OPS and 8 OPS+. And it's been worse than that for most of the campaign.
But on Thursday night, Barnes was the hero. The Dodgers have been so good lately that their incredible play has been contagious. Barnes caught the fever for one evening.
LA completed the sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers in what ended up being a 1-0 win. The pitcher's duel between Lance Lynn and Corbin Burnes featured zero runs until the eighth inning ... when, of all hitters, Barnes delivered.
The Dodgers had four hits on the night. Mookie Betts had two. Barnes had the other two, one of which was a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to give the Dodgers the lead.
That made life easy for Dave Roberts, who called on Evan Phillips to shut the door in the ninth. Barnes' first home run of the year and first game-altering offensive contribution since ... April 29 against the Cardinals (?!) continued the hottest team in baseball's unbelievable August streak.
Dodgers are so unstoppable right now even Austin Barnes is playing savior
Barnes has been enduring a career-worst season. On top of his horrific offensive numbers, he sports a -1.4 overall WAR and is negative on both sides of the ball. He's been one of the few detriments among the Dodgers' crew of position players.
But August heals all. The last five games Barnes has played in, the Dodgers are 5-0. He already has the most hits of any month this season (he's 4-for-13 with a homer and two RBI since Aug. 3). He got a little boost from SportsNet LA analyst and former Dodger Nomar Garciaparra, who predicted Barnes' first home run of the season before Thursday's game!
You mean to tell us there isn't something wonderfully cosmic occurring right now for the Dodgers?
And for all the fans who have been on Barnes' case this year, his postgame interview should make you feel a bit better and keep you from breathing down his neck for the time being. He admitted how poorly he's been playing and shouted out his teammates for sticking by his side and picking him up every opportunity they've had.
It's quickly turned into a special season for the Dodgers, who lead the NL West by 10.5 games and continue to get unexpected contributions from every corner of the roster, no matter how poorly a particular player or group of players are performing.
Barnes was of the few players fans were harboring resentment for this late in the year, and even he's managed to give them a major reason to celebrate. Did we mention this overshadowed Lance Lynn's seven shutout innings on 87 pitches?
There's no conceivable way fans can complain about anything Dodgers-related right now.