MILWAUKEE –– On Friday night, Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Wade Miley and catcher Tucker Barnhart led the Reds to a 2-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Miley threw eight shutout innings and lowered his ERA to 2.80, one of the lowest in the National League. Barnhart improved his batting average to .273, which would be a career high.
Then on Saturday morning, MLB named injury replacements for the All-Star Game. Miley and Barnhart both had a case to be considered, but neither player was selected by MLB.
“Everybody loves offense, but Tucker is hitting what, .270?” Miley said. “He’s super productive, I don’t know what they’re looking for. We work really well together.”
“It’s been so fun to catch Wade,” Barnhart said. “He’s one of my favorite teammates that I’ve ever had, and without a doubt he has earned the right to be mentioned as being an All-Star. I hope he gets consideration if the time comes.”
Barnhart has won two Gold Glove awards in his career and has established a reputation as one of the best defensive catchers in MLB. In the last week, Barnhart has made a “sneak attack” pickoff throw at third base and a sliding catch on the warning track down the third base line.
Even though he has always been a standout defender, Barnhart hasn't been mentioned as a candidate for the All-Star Game for most of his career.
“Defense wins games,” Barnhart said. “It may not be the thing that sticks out or is obvious on the back of baseball cards. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s one of the things that wins baseball games. Whatever that means in terms of the All-Star Game, I don’t really know. But that’s the way I play and the way I love to play. That’s the way I’ll always play.”
The difference for Barnhart in 2021 has been his success at the plate. Among National League catchers with at least 190 at-bats, Barnhart ranks third in the NL in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage and fourth in OPS.
Even though Barnhart has had a better statistical season than Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, Molina was named an injury replacement on Saturday. Molina later declined an invitation to the game, and MLB chose Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez over Barnhart.
Before the Reds game Saturday, Barnhart said he’s having the best two-way season of his career.
“Not that I wasn’t before, but I would really search for changes or tweaks when things would go a little awry instead of just staying within the confines of my game as a hitter,” Barnhart said. “I’m doing a really good job with that this year.”
Miley added to his case with his start on Friday night to be the 13th starter on NL’s All-Star roster. Entering Saturday, Miley ranked 13th among qualifying NL starters in ERA, ninth in wins and 22nd in WHIP.
“I haven’t done all of the research, (but) there are guys on our team that have had great halves and certainly could have been part of that,” Reds manager David Bell said. “ In no way am I being critical because I don’t have all the information. You look at what Wade has done, there’s absolutely a case for Wade. I’ve seen first hand that he would be deserving if he would have been selected. There’s no doubt about it.”
While Miley has a case to be an injury replacement for the All-Star Game, the 11-year veteran said he has other plans for the upcoming break.
“I’m thinking about winning two baseball games and going to hide in the mountains for a couple days,” Miley said. “That’s exactly what I want. Just hang out, watch some bears come up into the front yard, take my little boy swimming, go to the park and hang out.”