Chicago Cubs: Hit everywhere and learned to lay off trash
Baez had an MVP-caliber season and yet, one of the quirkiest stats regarding his 2018 season might be the fact that he batted in every position of the batting order at some point during the season (he actually had at least six plate appearances in every spot, so it’s not even like he had just one pinch-hitting at-bat in spots). In fact, he had at least 50 plate appearances in six different spots in the batting order, an almost unfathomable statistic given the kind of season he had.
He also had an incredible year going the other way and hitting with authority all over the field (shameless plug for Javy’s potential 2019 season here). His ability to foul balls off and lay off a few more sliders enabled him to eventually get better pitches in some at-bats, and he made sure the pitchers paid when they did screw up and throw him a strike.
Take, for instance, his at-bat in the eighth inning of the Wild Card game against the Rockies with the Cubs trailing 1-0 and basically unable to muster anything on offense. Down 0-2 with two outs and Terrance Gore standing at second base after running for Anthony Rizzo, the Baez we had come to know would have flailed away and the inning would have been over.
Baez, however, was a different man in 2018. He stayed back on a slider that painted the black on the outside part of the plate and laced it back up the middle to knock in the only Cubs’ run in 13 innings of play in the Wild Card game. (Sorry, I know. Painful memories)
In the end, Baez walked away from 2018 (so far) with a Fielding Bible Defensive award for his defensive wizardry at multiple positions, as well as the Silver Slugger at second base. And, while the MVP award will be announced on Thursday, there’s always the chance he walks away with a really big piece of hardware (though, as noted, it will probably go to Yelich).
It was the kind of season that Cubs’ fans have been dreaming and drooling about since first setting eyes upon Baez. Everyone knew Baez had all the potential in the world; it was just nice seeing him putting everything together in 2018 and seizing his day through the season.
The bottom line for Javier Baez in 2018 was that he was able to play, play with energy, and he responded with a sensational year. Now, the real magic trick will be seeing if he can pull a similar rabbit out of his hat for 2019.
As Cubs fans, we’re certainly all ready for whatever magic show Baez is ready to perform; here’s hoping the rest of the team partakes in the magic show as well. Maybe he will even stand up on top of the dugout after a World Series win at Wrigley Field and yell something like, “O, Captain, my captain” as his final nod to Mr. Keating and his advice on “Carpe Diem.”
On second thought, he’s only 25 and that movie came out in 1989; he’s probably never even seen it. I’m just glad he seized the day.