Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez has progressed significantly since his debut

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Javier Baez / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Javier Baez / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Baez starts to show signs of putting it all together

In 2016 we got our first full season of Baez playing in the majors. After struggling in his first two stints with the Cubs, he showed that he belonged with a much-improved approach at the plate and his defensive versatility.

The biggest improvement for Baez in 2016 was his plate discipline. He significantly cut back on his number of strikeouts by not chasing out of the zone nearly as often. He still struck out in 24 percent of his at-bats and tallied 108 punchouts on the year but those are both the lowest numbers of his career.

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He also became a dangerous weapon defensively for manager Joe Maddon. With Addison Russell occupying the shortstop position, Baez didn’t have a set spot defensively. He moved all over the field appearing in 59 games at second base, 62 games at third base, 25 games at shortstop and even two games in the outfield. Baez received most of his time at second base and he and Russell quickly became one of the leagues best double-play combos in all of baseball.

Baez shines in the postseason

Baez showed up big-time for the Cubs in the 2016 playoffs. He quickly became a hero as he led the Cubs to a 1-0 victory in Game 1 against the San Francisco Giants. Baez earned the start at second base for his defense but delivered the only offense of the game as he hit a solo home run that just barely landed in the basket.

Baez really put himself on the map with his performance in the 2016 postseason as he shared co-NCLS MVP honors with Jon Lester. Throughout the six-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baez hit .318 at the plate with four doubles and five RBI. He had a memorable moment in Game 1 where he stole home to help the Cubs take a 1-0 edge in the series.

After being as good as he was in the first two rounds, Baez disappeared in the World Series. He hit just .167 at the plate and struck out 13 times in the seven-game series. However, he did deliver a huge home run in Game 7 which ultimately knocked Corey Kluber out of the ballgame.

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