Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez is letting MVP chances slip through his fingers

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Since eclipsing the 30-homer, 100-RBI marks on Sept. 3, Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez hit a wall, potentially thwarting his National League MVP chances.

When Dexter Fowler manned center field and held the leadoff spot for the Chicago Cubs, a familiar phrase could be heard coming from the bleachers at Wrigley Field.

“You go, we go!”

Now, it applies to Javier Baez. When El Mago is magical, the Cubs, more or less, win ball games. When he struggles, the whole team follows suit. From August (the team’s best month in terms of winning percentage) to September, Baez’s OPS dropped a full 200 points. Sure, September is far from over, but that is a stark contrast.

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He’s well on-pace to strike out more this month than at any other point this year. Known as a free-swinger, this should hardly come as a surprise to anyone. But the team needs him to get back to being the extra-base machine he’s been the rest of the 2018 campaign.

Really, it’s this simple – when Baez is driving in runs, the Cubs are winning. Seventy-two of his 100 runs batted in this year have come in Chicago victories. It makes sense that his OPS sits north of .900 in wins and drops precipitously in losses, as well.

Dwindling MVP chances?

A month ago, Baez seemed like a sure-fire finalist for the National League MVP. Now, he probably still is – but he’s no longer a front-runner given his shoddy performance so far this month, especially in the last week.

But fear not, members of El Mago Nation. This is where MVPs are made. The Cubs’ backs are against the wall right now, with essentially no margin for error. Milwaukee is playing some truly inspiring ball of late, winning four of six head-to-head matchups between the two clubs.

With just 17 regular season contests left, all but three being played in Chicago, it’s make-or-break time for Baez and his teammates. And, if he wants to truly be considered an elite talent in the league, he needs to step up and lead the charge back to October.

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It won’t be easy. In fact, breaking a team-wide slump is one of the hardest things in baseball to do. But this is a guy more than capable of doing so. We know he can inspire with what he does on the field with the leather. Now, it’s time to crank it up to 10 for the last two weeks and put the Cubs on his back in pursuit of another NL Central title.