CHICAGO -- Conversations about Darwin Barney always come back to the Cubs second baseman's defense.
And as Barney entered Friday with his National League record of 135 straight errorless games still intact, his offensive improvement during the season's second half -- especially this month -- hasn't received as much publicity.
Barney is hitting .277 with a .380 on-base percentage and .706 OPS since the All-Star break. In 19 September games, those marks have risen to .348/.419/.810.
Barney's on-base percentage this season (.314) is similar to last season (.313), but Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Barney's recent improvement in that area might be best explained by going through the maturation process, like every young player.
"Everybody wants young guys to have on-base percentage, and it doesn't come until you've had your 2,000 at-bats in the Majors Leagues or 4,000 at-bats in professional baseball," Sveum said. "Everybody's a little bit different, but the scale of on-base percentage is not brought up by one-year players and 22-year-old kids. That's not where it usually happens at."
Barney, 26, has a little more than 1,000 Major League at-bats and about 3,200 professionally, so he is getting there. The second-year player is doing it while also by proving his worth defensively, as he sits six games shy of tying Placido Polanco's Major League record of 141 straight errorless games by a second baseman.
"Obviously, we want the OPS to be over .700, but that kind of defense is saving runs constantly every single day," Sveum said.