Chicago Cubs star Javier Baez is must-see TV on the North Side unlike anything we’ve seen since the days of Slammin’ Sammy Sosa and the Home Run Chase.
In the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, the Chicago Cubs selected Javier Baez. Thus began what has become a trying, but, ultimately, highly rewarding relationship. Right out of the gates, Baez ranked as one of the most highly-touted prospects in the game.
He was widely believed to be on the path to being the first of the ‘great’ prospects to make an impact at the Major League level. But all young players have their flaws. For Baez, one loomed large. The swing-and-miss tendency.
Early in his career (and still today, to a degree), this guy swung at everything. Amidst a breakout 2018 campaign, Baez is still on pact to strike out 162 times this year – that’s a punch out per game.
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Manager Joe Maddon has made it known that if Baez could lay off balls in the dirt, he could turn into of the best hitters in baseball.
"“You’re seeing the ascension,” Maddon said late last season. “I’ve talked about this for a bit — where the moment he starts laying off the down-and-away slider, he’s Manny Ramirez. He’s got that kind of abilities at the plate. It’s just a matter of maturing as a hitter, which he will.”"
Even though Baez strikes out quite a bit, his free-swinging hitting style is one of the reasons he so much to watch. He reminds me a bit of newly inducted Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero. That is, he is a player who can turn a ball out of the zone into a hit.
Chasing an elite offensive club
This season, Baez has already set a new career-high with 79 runs batted in – and it’s not yet August. With one more stolen base, he joins the 20-20 club and, with two months to go, he stands a real shot at being a 30-30 guy. Not bad for a guy who might bring even more value on defense.
I can’t even think of a comparable the quality of Baez’s glove. He is “El Mago.” From his quick tags on throws from Willson Contreras to making the impossible plays look routine. And, make no mistake, he makes a lot of plays that we don’t think twice about because we’re accustomed to it.
It’s not just at one position, either. He makes these sparkling play from any position on the infield – even first base.
Unrivaled baseball IQ
To me, the biggest reason I enjoy watching Javier Baez is to see what his ‘Spidey Sense’ comes up with next. Because this guy’s baseball IQ is off the charts – and that’s putting it mildly.
Whether it’s a quick glance to the corner infielders to see if he can beat out a bunt or organizing a run down to perfection, he always appears to be one step ahead of his teammates and two steps ahead of the competition.
The best part about El Mago? He loves the game – and it shows. Baez hustles – always has a massive grin on his face and leaves it all on the field for his teammates. He’s always willing to think a bit outside the box to get the job done, too.
Sure, he may overdo things every once in awhile. But love him or hate him, his happy-go-lucky attitude is why Javier Baez is must-see TV.