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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Using all fields more effectively

Baez has two key tenets that make him especially dangerous – tremendous bat speed and raw power.

His power to all fields has always been a thing, even dating back to his days in the Cubs’ minor league system. But it seems like Javier Baez sometimes forgets the fact he can hit a ball out to right just as easily as he can pull one out to left (sometimes easier, depending on the pitch he gets).  The young infielder has tremendous power the other way, and it almost seems laughable (or depressing) when he doesn’t take advantage of that.

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It’s not a surprise that the MVP candidate had a breakout year, in large part, by going the other way and hitting with authority.  Baez hit merely five home runs to the right of center field in 2017.

Last year? He clubbed 14 home runs to the opposite field. Before you counter with the fact that he had more at-bats and hit more total home runs in 2018, consider the fact that his percentage of home runs the opposite way in 2017 was 22 percent (5 of 23).

In 2018, it nearly doubled to 41 percent (14 of 34).  In 2017, Baez hit 24 doubles and two triples. This season, he hit 40 doubles and nine triples.  If you look at the data for going the other way, you’ll find it lines up with the home run data as well.

Of the 24 doubles he hit in 2017, only seven went to the right side of the field. In his breakout campaign, 17 of his 40 doubles went the other way. Of the triples, both went to right in 2017, however that’s more a function of triples as it is anything to do with Baez as most triples are hit the opposite way.

Of more importance is the fact that he hit nine total triples in 2018, seven of them going the other way.  The fact that he hit that many “oppo” doubles and triples speaks to his willingness to take what the pitcher gave him in 2018. In total, Baez had 83 extra-base hits in 2018 and nearly half (38) of those were hit to the right of second base.

That willingness to go the other way, coupled with Baez’s raw power, is a perfect marriage and will only get better with time and protection.  Some may credit Chili Davis with this approach, some may credit Joe Maddon. What is certain is that he started putting some of that advice and his own knowledge to work for himself in 2018.