Boston Red Sox Nation scapegoat: The Ballad of Matt Barnes

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 07: A ball sits inside the mitt of Adam LaRoche
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 07: A ball sits inside the mitt of Adam LaRoche /

Every team has a player or two that the fans love to hate. For the Boston Red Sox, that seems to be Matt Barnes. Does he deserve the negative energy though?

No matter what fanbase you talk to, a few things are the same. There always seems to be at least one player a majority of the fans appear to almost actively root against. For the Boston Red Sox, there’s two, and both pitched on Friday night.

David Price threw seven absurdly dominant innings for the Red Sox, so even his biggest haters kept their criticism in-check on Friday.

Matt Barnes entered the game in the eighth though, and a lot of people took this as a chance to get out some frustration.

Now, I understand being upset that Price was taken out of the game after just 76 pitches through seven shutout innings. It’s his first start of the year however, and suffering through an injury-decimated 2017, taking it easy is a smart move.

Endless tweets along the lines of “Barnes makes me nervous” started to flow in. This being despite the fact that he was the only pitcher to come out of the bullpen on Thursday that actually looked good. In fact, he threw a perfect inning.

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Barnes picked up a strikeout to start the inning, then walked a batter. After that, it was time for the “Barnes is imploding” tweets. The 27-year-old promptly retired the next two hitters to end the inning.

This caused some positive tweets. Don’t be fooled though, there were still some weary tweets as well as some negative (somehow) tweets towards Barnes.

Don’t get me wrong. Two innings isn’t proof that he’s a star. I’m not trying to convince you he’s one anyways. This false narrative that Barnes consistently blows games for the Red Sox is ridiculous though.

51-of-70 appearances by the right-hander were scoreless last season. 11-of-those-51 scoreless appearances were longer than one inning. Meanwhile, of the 19 outings where he did allow a run, nine of them were in wins and a few others were in games where the Red Sox got blown out. Very few times last season did Barnes actually attribute to the Red Sox losing.

Last year, Barnes was good-not-great working out of the Boston bullpen. However, he posted career-highs in innings pitched and wins, as well as strikeouts. Meanwhile, his ERA and WHIP were career-bests as well.

All five of those categories have improved in each of the last two seasons. Barnes even allowed less walks and hits last year than he did in the previous year, despite pitching three more innings. He’s getting better as he enters his prime, who would’ve figured?

Fans love to latch on to a player to complain about because then they don’t need to attack the entire team. Maybe it’s time to stop doing that with Barnes. Or at least recognize when he comes through instead of dwelling on past poor performances.

Next: Red Sox: Four reasons that will determine a winning or losing season

Matt Barnes isn’t perfect. He’s not the source of all the Boston Red Sox problems either though.