Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez snaps cold streak with big game in Cincinnati

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Barely cracking the Mendoza Line in the last two weeks, Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez broke out on both sides of the ball on Sunday afternoon.

After an absolutely torrid start out of the gates, Javier Baez seemed to be on cruise control lately. He even drew the ire of Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon earlier in the weekend for a lack of hustle on a ball – something we’ve seen before from the exciting, albeit young, star.

But instead of shirking away, Baez responded exactly how he needed to. He put together a 3-for-4 game with a home run as part of back-to-back jacks with Kyle Schwarber in the top of the second.

"“He fessed up,” Maddon said after Sunday’s win. “He knew he screwed up. He admitted to it. He goes out there and shows why he’s one of the best players in the league.”"

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Baez needed a good game not just because of being called out Saturday, but because he’s been struggling of late. Sunday marked his first three-hit game since April 20 in Colorado – a four-hit effort. In April, he recorded eight multi-hit games; so far in May, he has four.

Back to his old ways in May

The Puerto Rican native still leads all Cubs hitters by a wide margin in terms of RBI. With Sunday’s solo blast, he has driven in 38 runs on the year – well ahead of Anthony Rizzo‘s 30. That mark ranks tops in the National League.

In May, we’ve seen a less disciplined, more free-swinging version of Baez – one that’s what we’ve come to expect over the course of a season. How free-swinging, you ask? He is yet to draw a single walk this month and hasn’t reached base via the free pass since April 11.

Baez has never gone to the dish looking to draw a walk. He’s looking for a pitch he can deposit in the seats 400-something odd feet away. But if he wants to maintain the early success he’s had so far in 2018, he needs to get back to doing what he did in the season’s first month.

His .963 April OPS had fans salivating. Could this be what El Mago could turn into? Perhaps. But, again, plate discipline is everything. (Although you’d never know that by watching today’s game). That mark took a nosedive in May – plummeting down to a .717 clip. Hardly elite by any standard.

Plays have ebbs and flows. Over the course of a season, everyone experiences their share of ups and downs. Baez is hardly an exception to the rule.

Next: Cubs rotation starting to come together nicely

But when you go five weeks without drawing a walk and your numbers trend in the wrong direction during that span? It’s time to adjust. Let’s hope Sunday’s big performance helps get him back on track as a dynamic threat in the middle of the Chicago Cubs lineup.