Before the season started I placed some lofty expectations on Javier Baez. I think he’s one of the most exciting young guys coming into the bigs, and I think this is the year for him to break out. So far, Baez has lived up to those expectations, displaying versatility in the field, creativity on the base paths, and pop at the plate.
Since getting back to the active roster on April 15, Baez has hit .355 with an OBP just shy of .400 in 31 at-bats. Baez has, per his usual, drawn only 2 walks, while striking out on 9 occasions. As I’ve mentioned previously, the knock — at least for me — on Baez is that he, like Jorge Soler, comes up empty far too many times. Still, Baez has swung the bat with confidence which is really all you can ask out of most youngsters.
Baez has seen action around the infield, with most of the reps coming at third base. In the field Baez has been great. Looking extremely comfortable at the hot corner, Baez hasn’t made an error at any of the 5 positions he’s played either. He’s been a part of 5 double play combos, and was inches away from a triple play combo. Again, this is something I really like about Baez. He’s a baseball player. He goes out there, plays where you tell him to, and gets the job done. He’s easy with the glove and makes strong accurate throws. In fact, Baez has played that Kris Bryant has actually been moving out to left field to let Baez take the hot corner. Great stuff so far.
Last category where Baez deserves some recognition is on the base paths. In a tight game against the Brewers, Baez contorted his body on a head-first slide into 2nd to avoid a tag on a throw that clearly beat him to the bag. Baez would make it around to score later in the inning, and the Cubs would end up winning the game 4-3. Plays like this are probably the quickest way to get me to like a player. If you get creative out there, get some dirt on the uniform, and make a little something out of nothing, you’re doing it right.
Gritty teams come out on top in gritty games, and once we get to October, you better believe grit will be at a premium. Young guys who are willing to compete the way Javier Baez does are awesome, so lets keep watching Javy do his thing.