Chicago Cubs: Baez becomes a full-time starter for the Cubs
After a stellar postseason, it was impossible to keep Baez out of the Cubs starting lineup. With age starting to catch up to Ben Zobrist, the decision was made to make Baez the everyday second baseman. The move was a no-brainer.
Baez built on a solid 2016 season at the plate and put up much bigger power numbers. In 2017 he hit 23 home runs and recorded 75 RBI compared to 14 home runs and 59 RBI the season prior. He posted the exact same batting average from a season ago, hitting .273 with 128 hits.
A huge difference for Baez at the plate was his patience. He increased his walk rate from 3.3 percent to 5.9 percent. He recorded 30 walks on the year which doubled his efforts from 2016. Although his walk rate increased, his strikeout rate did as well. Baez still struggled to lay off that pitch in the dirt and struck out 28.3 percent of the time.
While Baez started to hit his stride at the plate, he finally got his opportunity to play shortstop full-time when Russell went down with an injury. He relished in the opportunity and for awhile it seemed like every game featured a must see play from Baez. He wound up playing more innings at shortstop than at second base and really made the case to be the full-time shortstop even when Russell returned.
While Baez certainly improved over the course of the season, he showed inconsistencies at times. Most notably, Baez disappeared once the postseason began as he went 0-20 in the first seven games.