Barnes brings analytics, coaching together

June 20th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo's Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Last year, as former Blue Jays pitcher Danny Barnes was playing for the independent Long Island Ducks and considering his post-baseball career options, an acquaintance recommended that he reach out to the Mets about an analytics position. That appealed to Barnes, a Princeton alumnus and Columbia grad student whose analytical bent helped him carve out a three-year Major League career despite being a 35th-round Draft pick.

The only problem?

“I didn’t get [the job],” Barnes said, laughing.

But Barnes kept in touch with some of the higher-ups in the Mets' front office, including general manager Billy Eppler, who brought up the possibility of Barnes coming aboard as an assistant coach. Shortly before Spring Training, the Mets officially created that position on Buck Showalter’s staff, hiring Barnesas a do-everything assistant. His duties range from throwing batting practice to managing the lineup card to delivering analytical information to Showalter before games.

“I wasn’t expecting it, that’s for sure,” said Barnes, who frequently shows up on broadcasts as the bespectacled coach in the Mets dugout. “It’s something I’m finding that I enjoy doing a lot. It’s challenging every day. There are things that come up. There are busy days, long days, but it’s fun. It’s fun to be a part of this team. I’m learning a lot of stuff. I was surprised to learn how much goes on before a pitch is even thrown.”

When the season ends, Barnes will return to Columbia, where he has one semester remaining to complete his MBA. He attended grad school not necessarily to land a job in Major League Baseball, but to gain a better understanding of the predictive analytics upon which nearly all modern industries rely. If Barnes’ degree did eventually allow him to work for a team, he figured it would be in baseball operations or perhaps even a business role.

Now that he’s applying his skillset to the coaching side of the industry instead, combining his pitching know-how with his business skills to relate complicated concepts to players, Barnes is beginning to wrap his mind around making this his long-term career. He envisions a future in which an increasing number of coaches have advanced degrees or at least a strong grasp of analytics, as well as a background on the playing field.

“I’m really enjoying it right now,” Barnes said. “Obviously, it helps to be winning and all that. But I think even ignoring how the team is doing, it’s something that’s very engaging. I could see myself -- I do see myself -- trying to pursue this. We’ll see what happens, but I couldn’t be happier right now.”