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Chicago Cubs: What can we expect from Javier Baez in 2017?

Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez hits a solo home run against the Cleveland Indians in the fifth inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez hits a solo home run against the Cleveland Indians in the fifth inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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MLB: Miami Marlins at Chicago Cubs
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Bat control, bat control, bat control

In his 2014 rookie campaign, strikeouts were the name of the game for Javier Baez.

He whiffed a staggering 95 times in 213 at-bats (47 percent). Hard breaking pitches outside the zone and fastballs in his eyes proved to be too much for the young slugger.

Similarly, in the minors, strikeouts racked up for Baez, as well.  In 104 games at Triple-A Iowa in 2014, he struck out 130 times. But with those strikeouts came game-altering power.

Baez entered that season as a consensus top five prospect for good reason. He was coming off a year in which he batted .282/.341/.578 with 37 home runs and 111 runs batted across two levels of the Chicago Cubs’ system.

Following that 2014 campaign, he notably improved in terms of plate discipline. In his late-season call-up, he lowered his strikeout percentage down to 31.5 percent. It was still high, but he looked like a different player than in his first taste of big league action.

A changed man

His batting line drastically improved thanks to the new approach. His average jumped 120 points from the year prior and therefore, his OPS climbed from .551 in 2014 to .733 in 2015.

Last year, Baez appeared in a career-high 142 games for the Cubs, putting up a respectable .273 average to go along with 14 long balls and 59 runs batted in.

In terms of strikeouts to walks, suffice to say there’s still work to do. Baez drew just 15 walks, striking out 108 times over the course of the season.

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