Chicago Cubs: Baez continues to shine at shortstop
Another reason this club will most certainly continue to trend in the right direction in the second half is the play of All-Star shortstop and tagging magician Javier Baez. Even when Baez isn’t hitting, he still finds a way to affect the game in some way, shape, or form- whether it’s a tag, a slide, legging out a dropped-third strike, or jumping on Kyle Schwarber after a walk-off bomb. Regardless of the score or outcome, Baez seems to be in the middle of things most days and nights, and he has established himself as the most exciting player not just on the Cubs, but in all of baseball.
After a breakout performance in 2018 that saw Baez finish second to Christian Yelich in the NL MVP race, most pundits figured Baez was due for a bit of regression in 2019. Especially having to take over permanent shortstop duties with Addison Russell suspended and then relegated to a part-time player.
Not only has Baez continued to hit home runs, drive in runs, and do extraordinary things on the diamond, he has played even better defense this season. His defense is carrying a bit more of the weight this season in his 3.4 fWAR so far (before yesterday’s game, so that number is going up after a 3-for-4, three RBI performance). He’s also on pace to produce basically the same exact 5.3 fWAR as last season, all while taking over shortstop duties on an almost everyday basis.
While Baez probably won’t be involved in the NL MVP race in 2019 thanks to Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich having Ruthian seasons. He’s still on pace to hit 30+ home runs and drive in 100 runs again. All while playing the most premium of premium positions on the field almost every single day. If there’s a reason to be optimistic about the Cubs’ second-half chances this season? Look no further than the guy wearing number nine Although he’s not doing it all alone this season.