Michael Barrett was born on October 22, 1976 in Atlanta, Georgia. He began playing baseball at a young age, and was a standout performer both in the infield and outfield.
Barrett was drafted in the first round of the amateur draft in 1995 by the Montreal Expos and was sent to the minor leagues to develop his skills as a shortstop. He made the move to third base, and eventually to catcher in the minors.
1999 was his first full season in the major leagues, and he split his time between third base and catcher, playing 66 games at the hot corner, and 59 behind the plate. He hit .293 that season, with 52 RBI and 32 doubles. He became the full time catcher in Montreal in 2001, and hasn't played third base since.
He struggled with injuries and inconsistency for the rest of his career in Montreal. He was traded to the Oakland Athletics after the 2003 season, but before he could unpack his suitcase, was traded again to the Chicago Cubs for catcher Damian Miller.
Barrett maintained his health throughout the 2004 and 2005 season, and had two good seasons. He hit 16 home runs in each season, which is his career high. He provided good offense and solid defense at catcher for the Cubs.
The 2006 season proved interesting for Barrett. His best offensive season was interrupted by scandal and injury. He only played in 107 games, but still set or tied career highs in many categories.
In May, he was part of a brawl between the Cubs and crosstown rivals Chicago White Sox that resulted in a ten game suspension. White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was tagging up from third base attempting to score on a flyout. Pierzynski ran through Barrett before slapping home plate in celebration. Barrett retaliated by punching Pierzynski in the face with his right fist. A brawl ensued, and four players were ejected.
Barrett claimed after the game that Pierzynski incited the action by hitting Barrett before he had the ball. Pierzynski claims it was a legal play, and Major League Baseball agreed, and upheld Barrett's suspension after an appeal hearing.
Barrett continued his solid hitting after returning from suspension, but his season ended on September 2 after suffering a groin injury. He was hit by a foul ball, and needed surgery to correct the damaged area. Barrett still set career highs in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging (.307/.368/.517) and tied his career best in home runs with 16.
He is heading into the offensive prime of his career, and should he stay healthy, could produce a .300/20/80 season for the 2007 Chicago Cubs.
Barrett is known as an offensive catcher, but his defense has improved since taking over catching duties full time in 2001. He struggles against left-handed pitchers, an oddity for a right-handed hitter. He has a career .257 mark against lefties, as opposed to .272 against righties.
Barrett has improved his on-base percentage considerably over the last three seasons, and was wildly successful in the period during which he hit #3 in the batting order for the 2006 Cubs. He batted .366 in 34 games in the three hole, and hit eight of his 16 home runs during that time.
He's been most successful playing road games in Cincinnati, where he holds a career .390 average with three home runs and 16 RBI in 82 AB. Also, in 658 career AB at Wrigley Field, he has hit 28 HR and has 93 RBI.
- Selected by Montreal Expos in the 1st round (28th pick overall) of the free-agent draft (June 1, 1995 - signed June 9, 1995).
- Traded by Montreal Expos to Oakland Athletics in exchange for a player to be named later (December 15, 2003); Montreal Expos received Bret Price (December 19, 2003).
- Traded by Oakland Athletics to Chicago Cubs in exchange for Damian Miller and cash (December 15, 2003).
- Granted free agency (December 21, 2003).
- Signed by Chicago Cubs (December 21, 2003).
- Traded by the Chicago Cubs with cash to the San Diego Padres for Kyler Burke (minors) and Rob Bowen (June 20, 2007).
- Granted Free Agency (October 30, 2007).
- Signed as a Free Agent with the San Diego Padres (December 19, 2007).
- Granted Free Agency (October 10, 2008).
- Signed as a Free Agent with the Toronto Blue Jays (December 29, 2008).