Heading into 2011 Daric Barton was poised to have a breakout year with the Oakland Athletics and he was supposed to build on the successful 2010 season he had. A year which saw him post his best numbers of his young career.
For 2010 he hit .273, had an OBP of .373, led the AL in walks with 110 to go along with 152 hits, 10 homeruns, 33 doubles, five triples and 57 rbis. Barton entered the season looking like he was going to set career highs in every category except for possibly the number of walks.
In early April while sliding back into second base against the Minnesota Twins, Barton hurt his shoulder and he struggled at the plate and with the glove to the point where he was sent down to the A's Triple A team the Sacramento Rivercats. At the end of July it was discovered that Barton had a torn labrum which explained his constant strugles at the plate.
To end the 2011 season Barton finished with a .212 batting average, a .325 OBP, 50 hits, 13 doubles, no homeruns and 21 rbis and that is definitely not the season that A's fans had envisioned for him.
With Barton's struggles the A's had a revolving door of first basemen including Conor Jackson who was traded, Brandon Allen, Andy Laroche, Landon Powell, Adam Rosales and Chris Carter. Also, worthy of note is that the A's acquired just before the season ended Kila Ka'aihue from the Kansas City Royals.
Of all the players who saw time at first base Allen is the current favorite to be the starter for the 2012 A's as he appeared in 40 games once he was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Brad Ziegler.
Allen brought immediate results for the A's and provided one of the more memorable moments of the season when he two homeruns against the New York Yankees in New York. His first 18 games with the team he looked like he was going to be the fixture in the A's lineup as he hit .290, with three homeruns and eight rbis.
The hot streak didn't last long for Allen as he hit .130, with no homeruns and three rbis the rest of the season for the A's. One of the criticisms of Allen when acquired by the A's was the lack of contact he made and that showed in the 41 games he appeared in he struck out 55 times while walking 11 times.
At the tail end of the season the A's brought up Chris Carter who had a token appearance early in the season for the A's and he didn't hit very well in either appearances with the team. Part of that was that when he was called up he sat on the bench for the first six games. For a young player sitting and waiting to get an opportunity doesn't really give an opportunity for success and that is what happened.
Carter's other problem is that he's below average defensively and what he truly projects to be is a designated hitter and it appears the A's are in the hunt to re-sign Hideki Matsui. Meaning that Carter is going to be in Sacramento for 2012 along with Ka'aihue or maybe used in a trade where he can go to a team and actually find playing time at the Major League level.
That leaves the competition to Barton and Allen and as of right now Allen has the edge over Barton. While the edge is for Allen at the moment the first base job for the A's in 2012 is Barton's to lose. Allen is not a proven Major League hitter and he has had chances to impress the Diamondbacks and be the first basemen of their future and he failed to impress and Paul Goldschmidt took his place.
Barton's 2010 season proved that he can hit at the Major League level as well as defend. The 2011 season if he's able to forget about it and have a solid Spring Training he will be the starting first basemen for the A's come 2012, with Allen backing him up and if Barton struggles then the job goes to Allen with Barton backing him up.