With two dazzling defensive plays Monday, Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez continues to show how valuable he is to the defending world champs.
Hot off a World Series title – the team’s first in 108 years – Chicago Cubs fans continue to clamor for a blockbuster trade. Just who will be involved in said deal ranges from Kyle Schwarber to Ian Happ and even Javier Baez.
But the latter continues to improve – and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Everyone – and I mean everyone – expected the Puerto Rican native to regress in 2017. Last year, he rode the wave of overachievement. Almost halfway through the season, that hardly appears to be the case.
Baez owns a respectable .263/.300/.474 line in 66 games this year. With 10 long-balls, he’s creeping up on his career-high of 14, which came last season. What’s even more exciting is the fact played in 142 games in 2016, giving him plenty of time to eclipse that mark.
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But it’s not his bat that keeps him in the lineup. It could be, but it isn’t. His sheer versatility, baseball IQ and defensive skills make him one of the most valuable names on the 25-man roster.
Baez has appeared in games at five different positions this season. There’s hardly a spot on the diamond he can’t play – and play at a high level. The 24-year-old told us before the season his main goal was health. And on that front, so far – so good.
Gold Glove defense on display again
In Monday’s win over Washington, Baez went 2-for-5. The three outs he recorded all came via the strikeout. Simply put, it’s a part of his game (and most sluggers) – and you have to accept that.
But it wasn’t at the plate he made headlines. It was on the diamond – with a pair of unbelievable catches that left fans across the nation shocked and in awe.
Making even one of these plays is a solid night at the ballpark. But to make both plays – especially in a game that wound up decided by a mere one run? Outstanding. Baez took the team on his shoulders last night and propelled them to a victory.
Without his defense, there’s a good chance Chicago loses the series opener to the Nationals. In a set that hopefully gets the Cubs rolling on a streak, every win counts. And, yet again, it was Javier Baez doing everything he could to get his team a ‘W.’