Javier Baez, IF
Javier Baez is an electric player who can play all over the infield. Baez can play second base, third base, shortstop and even first base from time-to-time.
Due to his solid play in 2016, Baez has earned a shot to have a bigger role in 2017. He has played in 10 of the Cubs’ 12 games thus far, all at second base. That will likely be Baez’s primary position in 2017, as the return of Kyle Schwarber will limit the need for Kris Bryant to play in the outfield.
With a chance to play more, Baez needs to take advantage of his extended role. In 2016, Baez struck out 24 percent of the time. That is concerning, but that seems to be forgotten when he gets a hold of a pitch and hits a moonshot out of the ballpark.
Strikeouts are the biggest challenge
Thus far in 2017, Baez’s strikeout rate does not seem to be going away. In 31 plate appearances, Baez has struck out nine times. That equates to a 29 percent strikeout rate, which means if he gets 450 plate appearances in 2017, like he did last season, he could strikeout 131 times.
In an era where the strikeout rate of a player doesn’t seem to carry much weight, this may not be concerning. It becomes even less concerning when Baez has the talent to hit 25 or more home runs and be a well-above average defender.
Ignoring his strikeout problem, Javier Baez looks like a good player. Due to his ability to play many different positions, he will be in the lineup for much of the 2017 season.
A 25-home run season from Baez would squash the worries about his strikeout rate. Many Cubs fans hope that 25 home run season comes in 2017, as Ian Happ starts to put pressure on the 24-year-old Baez.