Chicago Cubs: Team’s 2018 success heavily dependent on young core

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Will Javy break out the lumber in 2018?

As he ascended the Chicago Cubs’ prospect lists, Javier Baez projected as a potential 40-homer bat. In 2013, he blasted 37 homers between High-A and Double-A, prompting downright giddiness from anxious fans.

That power has translated to his Major League game – but with big caveats. Baez is one of the biggest free-swingers in the game today. In 2016, really his first season with consistent at-bats, he whiffed in 24 percent of his 450 plate appearances. Last year, that number climbed to 28 percent across 508 ABs.

According to Fangraphs, anything above 27.5 percent is considered ‘awful’. Couple that with a dismal three percent walk rate in ’16 and 6 percent clip in 2017 – you can see where the opportunity improve exists.

Despite these shortcomings, Baez managed to hit .273 in each of those seasons, setting career-highs in 2017 with 23 home runs and 75 RBI. Defensively, he, again, has all the potential in the world. His baseball IQ and instincts are unparalleled.

With Addison Russell healthy and back at shortstop, all we can hope is that Baez embraces the challenge as an everyday second baseman and learns to change his approach at the dish. Even if he doesn’t, keep in mind he still brings tremendous value to the team.