Forbidden Love is a Cubs DNA series where our staff waxes poetic about a player on a team other than the Cubs. Maybe even one you think they should hate. In this installment, Staci gives some intradivisional love to one of the most fun, big-hearted, underrated players in baseball, Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart!
Remember that game in 2016 when Sparkles went off in Cincinnati for 3 home runs and 2 doubles against the Reds? If you could tear your eyes away from KB's handsome, dominant visage for two seconds to refocus behind home plate, you would have noticed something highly amusing:
Did you see it? Yes, that's Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart back there, completely disgusted by his pitchers' inability to get Sparkles out that day. Now that you see it, watch this video of all of Kris's ABs from that day, and concentrate on poor, bedraggled Tucker Barnhart as he gets progressively more annoyed at his pitchers throughout the game:
I mean, that's fun stuff right there. And why wouldn't it be? You want your catcher to care about the game and how it's going. After all, it's not his fault that Reds pitching sucked up until the last few seasons. And whenever the Cubs play the Reds we're always on Tucker Watch at DNA HQ if someone on the Cubs is having a good game. It's fun! He's fun!
That said, maybe something we haven't talked enough about is what a great catcher Barnhart is. While national media gets hung up on guys like Yadier Molina (barf) and J.T. Realmuto, Barnhart has quietly won 2 NL Gold Gloves at catcher in the last five seasons. And yes, one of them was in 2020 when the award was based solely on metrics rather than the "eye test." While flashier names get all the attention, Barnhart has consistently gotten better behind the plate every year. No, he's not going to hit much for you--his career 83 wRC+ doesn't make him much of an offensive threat. What he will do, though, is manage your game and keep fools from running all over you when your pitching staff has those frustrating days.
Something else about Tucker that's fun? His Twitter feed! He's one of those guys who's a super enthusiastic, fun follow who just loves the game of baseball, his family, and pretty much everything in between. He has thoughts on the game:
I feel this to my core.
He even has a good attitude about his HS yearbook pictures:
And any guy who can appreciate himself some Y&T is pretty okay by me:
If these weren't enough reasons to like and root for Barnhart, he's been the Reds' perennial nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, and again got their nod in 2020 for his efforts in feeding the needy during the COVID-19 pandemic and fundraising for charities both in his native Indiana and in Cincinnati.
Also pictured: Tucker's tremendous beard
It may have been a while since Reds fans could say their team was great, but at least they have a lot of likeable players that are easy to root for, and Tucker Barnhart is at the top of that list. I might even be a closet Reds fan at this point. Don't tell the Cubs.