After a breakout postseason, Chicago Cubs utility man Javier Baez is looking to make a name for himself as a regular in 2017.
The Chicago Cubs have a nice problem: too many quality position players.
Last season, the logjam was broken up to a degree when Kyle Schwarber suffered a season-ending injury just a handful of games into the season. Now, instead of an outfield jam, the middle infield has tightened up at the Friendly Confines.
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On any given day, the middle infield features some combination of Addison Russell, Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez. With Schwarber down last year, Zobrist headed out to corner outfield spots, but will likely be back in the infield more in 2017.
With that in mind, finding consistent at-bats for all these players could prove irksome for third-year Cubs skipper Joe Maddon. Through the postseason, he opted for a Baez-Russell duo up the middle and they did little to dissuade him from continuing that trend this season.
Baez broke out in a big way last fall, winning NLCS co-MVP with teammate Jon Lester, thanks to his offensive exploits. His tags became world-famous in October and his aggressiveness drew praise all across the game.
Leaving playing time out of the equation, what can we expect from the Puerto Rican native in 2017? Will he finally become a bona fide superstar or is he a long-term platoon utility man?