Javier Baez’s struggles leave questions about readiness
After yet another losing season, the Chicago Cubs are set to enter into an offseason with a lot fewer questions than in recent years. With all of the young talent that has already joined the big league club, at the very least, Chicago seems poised to be a .500 club in 2014.
Amidst all the hope and expectations, one question still looms large. Is Javier Baez really ready for the big leagues? The short answer to that is, not quite. However, taking a deeper look into his game and overall body of work shows that he isn’t as far off as many seem to think.
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Baez, 21, has struggled at the plate in his short time in the majors leagues. After winning the hearts of Cubs fans with his raw power early on, he has undergone heavy criticism because of his distressing amount of strikeouts. But beyond the punch outs, the young second baseman often fails to get on base and is hitting a lowly .172 as a result.
Those numbers obviously aren’t going to cut it in the majors, but don’t expect that kind of production to continue for much longer. With the bat speed that Baez already possesses, he may be just a few adjustments away from improving those numbers tremendously and contributing to the team’s offense.
Cubs management claims to have expected the offensive woes. According to Cubs President Theo Epstein, there’s no reason to be alarmed.
"“Offensively, it’s gone as expected,” Epstein said. “Javy’s extraordinarily talented but very raw offensively. He hasn’t quite learned a consistent approach and swings at the pitches he wants to swing at, and he’s letting the pitcher dictate the course of the at-bat by not being selective enough. When you do that in the big leagues, it can get ugly in a hurry.” h/t Carrie Muskat, MLB.com"
Although the growing pains that Baez has endured have been hard to watch at times, they come with the territory of developing young talent. And while it doesn’t seem like it right now, these hardships are only going to make him better.
Assuming all goes according to plan; Baez will be the Cubs second baseman for the 2015 season. If the team hopes to finally contend after years of losing, they’re going to need all of the pieces of their puzzle to contribute in a big way. In Baez’s case, he may be the biggest piece of them all.