Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez batting second in the lineup today

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 10: Javier Baez
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 10: Javier Baez /

It doesn’t seem like much, but the Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez is batting second today. Why is this important? It shows how far Baez has come as a hitter.

When you looked at the Chicago Cubs‘ lineup, something might have caught your eye. Was is Albert Almora Jr. leading off the game? No. That wasn’t it. It was Javier Baez batting second in today’s lineup. Clearly, Joe Maddon has to do with his lineup as he must. But that’s not the entirety of the story.

This is still new to Cubs’ skipper Maddon. First, he’s trying to find a spot where a guy like Baez can help the Cubs “go.”  It might not seem like the ideal fit for Baez, but it might work out. What does a guy that’s batting .235 have to offer? Well, a lot more than you think.

Picking his pitches

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The Cubs’ Baez isn’t a guy that’s going to walk. You and I both know that. But what they do have is someone who is taking pitches. Granted, he might not walk as much as you or I would like.

But he’s laying off the slider in the left-handed batter’s box and picking a pitch to hit. To me, that sounds like an adjustment on Baez’ part.

Even more so, check out the numbers at the plate. He’s seen 201 pitches at the plate. 131 of those were strikes, 70 were balls. 53 percent of the pitches he’s seen were taken for balls.

Better than before

Take that compared to last year when he only saw 45 percent. Javy sees better pitches. He hits better pitches. And it gets even better from there.

Granted, many of these numbers aren’t going to stick for Baez. But they offer a little bit of insight as to what he’s doing right. His ISO (SLG-AVG) is currently .431. The best he’s had in his career? Last season when he hit for an ISO of .207. His walk rate is 10.2%, and his strikeout rate is down to 22%, from 28% last year.

These numbers won’t hold, but they are trending in the right direction. If Baez can keep things going at the plate, he can start to develop some continuity along the way. If he can put the ball in play–like he has–he can be a more prominent part of the offense.

Next: Cubs' leadoff spot has an answer for it

This is a start. If Maddon can find a spot for Baez, the Cubs are one less hitter away from figuring it out. Plus by pushing down Kris Bryant to third, Anthony Rizzo to fourth and Willson Contreras to fifth? They have an ‘ideal’ lineup, at least as far as a true 3-4-5 are concerned.

Now we need Baez to make some contact in the two spot, and everything will be just fine. Is that asking too much?