Chicago Cubs: No. 6: Javier Baez
It was recently announced that Javier Baez would be on the cover of MLB The Show 20. That speaks volumes to how he has emerged as one of the game’s most exciting players for the Chicago Cubs.
We tend to forget that there was a lot of talk about giving up on Baez a few years ago. He split 2014 and 2015 between the majors and minors, and given his whopping strikeout totals, many of us wondered whether he could be a productive major league player. The middle infielder proved his doubters wrong in 2016, spending most of the year with the big league club, but his big coming-out party was in the postseason, where he wowed a national audience with his bat, glove, and baserunning.
In 2017, Baez batted .273 for the second straight year, upping his home run total from 14 to 23 and his RBI total from 59 to 75 over 2016. But 2018 was his breakthrough year at the plate, hitting 34 homers and driving in 111 while batting .290, earning second place in NL MVP voting. All the while, he continued to dazzle at second base.
In 2019, Baez had another great year at the plate, though it was cut short due to injury. He also moved to shortstop and continued to be one of the game’s most dynamic defenders. Baez is still young enough and still has enough room to get better that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him at least this high on the list of the top Cubs of the 2020s ten years from now.