Chicago Cubs: Baez did it all – and did so all season long
Baez came out of the gates hot in 2018 and actually remained pretty consistent throughout the season, only having a few mini-slumps and problem areas. He slashed .280/.333/.630 in March and April, sending a message to the National League that he was ready to put together a fine year.
That being said, we’ve seen Javier Baez look like the best player in baseball before (namely the early part of the playoffs in 2016 when he carried the Cubs and won co-NLCS MVP honors), but he hadn’t been able to sustain that success over the course of a couple months, let alone a full season.
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
- Cubs: P.J. Higgins deserves to be in the lineup on a daily basis
Baez dipped a bit in May, slashing .262/.274/.495, but still managed to hit for some power and drive in runs despite not walking for large stretches of time. While everyone in baseball, including the guys in the Cubs dugout, was busy being baffled by his ability to hit well without walking, Baez decided to go on a tear in June and July, hitting over .300 with a nearly .600 slugging percentage during the heart of summer.
Maybe more amazingly, his OBP was north of .350 for those two months combined. He did all this while other members of the Cubs scuffled or were beset by injuries, at times keeping the team afloat with his antics. And, I did say antics; or maybe you didn’t see Baez steal home not once, but twice during his mid-summer tear. He also secured himself a spot on the NL All-Star team (and hit in the Home Run Derby) for his troubles, a first for Baez.
Baez fell off ever so slightly in August, but still managed to slash .288/.328/.577 as the Cubs started their usual second-half surge a little later than usual.
He entered August as the presumptive favorite in the NL MVP race, with many pointing to his defensive versatility and sorcery as an advantage over every other candidate. Unfortunately, Baez posted a month that looked a lot like his May, all while Christian Yelich was busy becoming radioactive to the tune of .370/.508/.804.
Those aren’t mistakes. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you.
Yelich literally was on base over half the time he came to the plate in the last month of the season and carried the Brewers to the NL Central Crown, much to the chagrin of every Cubs’ fan. And so, while Baez will most likely finish second in the MVP balloting to Yelich, there’s no shame in that given the kind of season both had.