Chicago Cubs should start Javier Baez at third base in Wild Card game


After posting solid numbers in September for the Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez should get the start at third base in Wednesday’s National League Wild Card game.

Now, hold up. I know what you’re thinking already – what about Kris Bryant?

Bryant is headed to a corner outfield spot for Joe Maddon‘s club in the showdown against the division-rival Pittsburgh Pirates, according to the Chicago Tribune, leaving the hot corner open.

In that same report, Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper speculated that this could lead to the team giving the start at third to Tommy La Stella, who missed the majority of the season with injury.

"Left-handed hitter Tommy La Stella, who played in only 33 games because of ribcage injuries, could start at third base, Cubs television play-by-play announcer Len Kasper speculated in a conversation with WSCR-AM 670’s Mully and Hanley show Tuesday morning."

As the Tribune report points out, Kasper said that Starlin Castro is likely to handle the duties at second base, which would be an infield from left-to-right of La Stella, Addison Russell, Castro and slugger Anthony Rizzo.

The logic behind starting La Stella is apparent: it adds another left-handed bat to the mix against Pirates’ starter Gerrit Cole Wednesday night, joining the likes of Rizzo, Miguel Montero and switch-hitter Dexter Fowler.

But if you’re looking for defense, which is another reason some believe La Stella will get the call at third Wednesday night, why not give the start to Baez, who has finally put some things together this year after a harrowing start to the season that included a broken finger and the death of his younger sister.

Baez was one of the team’s September call-ups – and one who performed well, as he batted .289./325/.408 in 28 games for Chicago, adding six doubles in the process. By contrast, in 52 contests in 2014, he batted just .169/.227/.324, hitting the same half-a-dozen two-baggers in nearly twice as many games.

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The young infielder has long been praised for his silky smooth defense, no matter where you stick him on the diamond – anywhere from second to short to third. He was a 0.4 dWAR player this season for Chicago, and seemed to flourish under Maddon down the stretch.

His light tower power is well-documented by this point. But that’s not why I’d want him in the lineup. Baez has a great arm and spectacular range and Pittsburgh, a team with multiple speedsters, could look to test the third baseman on Wednesday night.

While La Stella has been a nice piece in what little time we’ve seen him this season, Baez has done enough to earn a start in a game as big as tonight’s National League Wild Card contest.

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