Chicago Cubs rookie infielder Javier Baez hit the ground running after making his debut against the Colorado Rockies on August 5 and did something that hasn’t been done since the 2011 season.
He became the first second baseman since Jason Kipnis to hit five home runs in his first 14 games of his professional career. The former first round pick from Puerto Rico crushed nine home runs, 20 RBI with a shaky .169/.227/.324 with 95 strikeouts.
Baez split his 52 games between both second base and shortstop after Starlin Castro fell to an injury late in the season. He fielded .957 at second base, and .964 at shortstop while being charged with 10 total errors between both positions.
It appeared that Javier had more success against right handed pitchers than he did against lefties despite striking out 69 times. In 164 at-bats against right handers, Baez has 29 hits, five doubles, six RBI, 11 walks and a batting line of .177/.229/.317 with an OPS of .546.
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In 49 at-bats against lefties, Baez only struck out 26 times while recording seven hits, two doubles, three home runs, five RBI, four walks, and was hit by a pitch with batting .143/.222/.347.
Six of his nine home runs were solo bombs, while three of the nine came with runners on base.
Baez has been praised by MLB scouts as having the best bat speed in the Minors before being called up. It’s been compared to Gary Sheffield, who had a similarly violent swing, but could produce the same results Baez did early on. The key will be knowing when to take that swing down a notch to put the ball in play, not onto Waveland or Sheffield.
There is plenty of room for Baez to make improvements especially if he wants to remain a huge piece of this organization. He’ll serve as the teams backup shortstop if something were to happen to Castro again, but will be the teams everyday second baseman in 2015.