Chicago Cubs: Could Javier Baez be even better in 2019?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: What if the Cubs protected Baez all season?

In contrast to the nightmares he would cause for pitchers, imagine the dream come true for Baez if he were able to hit in between guys like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, or even someone like Bryce Harper all year long.

That sure sounds better than being scattered all over the lineup and hitting in front of Jason Heyward, Victor Caratini or a pitcher. (Baez actually hit in every slot of the batting order, 1-9 this season). Having a protected spot in the heart of the order might be something that would do wonders for a free-swinger like Baez.

In June and July this past season, he hit over .300 and got on base more than 35 percent of the time when he started hitting in the middle of the lineup regularly.  He would certainly see better pitches hitting in front of Anthony Rizzo than Kyle Hendricks. No offense, Professor Hendricks.

Even if Baez could be just a bit more selective, the protection afforded him in the meat of the order would enable him to hit for even more power and get even fatter pitches. (And, to be fair, he did get marginally better laying off the slider off the plate in spurts during 2018).  He was already twelfth in all of baseball with a .264 ISO last season; if he adds to that at all, he could easily climb near that .300 mark and be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Trout, Betts, J.D. Martinez, and Khris Davis.

In fact, his ISO has progressed on a consistent upward trend in the past four seasons, going from .118 in 2015 to .150 in 2016 to .207 in 2017 to .264 this past season.  If Baez continues on that upward climb, it’s quite possible he joins the upper echelon of power hitters in all of baseball next season.