Chicago Cubs: The case for Javier Baez
Javier Baez has been around for a few years and is clearly the more established player. When he first came up, he showed a lot of potential, hitting nine home runs in 52 games late in 2014. However, strikeouts and the ability to be patient were huge concerns. While Baez still strikes out a lot and isn’t exactly the league’s most patient hitter, he’s shown that the aggressive approach works for him.
For the first few years of his career, Baez kept getting better each year. It all culminated in an incredible 2018 season in which he finished second in National League MVP voting. That year, he batted .290 with 34 home runs and a league-leading 111 RBI. In 2019, Baez missed some time at the end of the season due to injury but still put up solid numbers, batting .281 with 29 home runs and 85 RBIs.
And as we know, Baez is one of the most dynamic defensive players in the game. After spending some time at second base, it appears he’s settling back in at shortstop, and it seems like almost daily he makes highlight-reel plays. The metrics like him too, as he posted a 2.2 defensive WAR in 2019 and has a career mark of 7.0.
As it appears the Cubs and Baez are working on a contract extension, the question is: Can Baez get even better? He’s currently one of the most athletic players in the game, and it’s hard to say how long that can continue before his skills start to diminish with age. What we have seen in recent years is that Baez has become a smarter and more clutch player. There’s no reason to think that Baez can’t continue to contribute at an elite level in 2020 and beyond.