Chicago Cubs: Examining the best draft picks of the decade
Javier Baez, SS – 2011 Amateur draft, Round 1 Pick 9
Most Cubs fans will agree how much of what went wrong for many years was due to Jim Hendry. While not a single draft went right for Hendry and the Cubs for much of his time in the front office, one selection specifically made all of the other horrific choices bearable. That guy is Javier Baez.
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Coming off yet another down year, the Cubs had the ninth overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft. Fun fact: Baez is a part of the same draft class as Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, Anthony Rendon, and Francisco Lindor. Lindor was selected one spot higher at Baez and most likely would be in a Cubs uniform had the Cleveland Indians not chosen him.
The story is meant to unfold as it will, and that story brought Baez to Chicago. After spending three seasons working his way through the system, Baez made his major league debut in 2014. He was awful, slashing .169/.227/.324 with a 41.5 percent strikeout rate, across 229 plate appearances.
After spending much of the next season at Triple-A Iowa, Baez responded his second time around the Show with a .289/.325/.408 line, and a reduced 30 percent strikeout rate. From 2016 to 2018, Baez significantly improved. The 2018 season was his coming-out party as he smashed 34 home runs with over 100 RBI and 21 stolen bases. Baez posted a 5.3 WAR that year.
As there is not much of anything positive to say about Hendry and his erroneous management, he did get one thing right in drafting Baez, who has quickly become the face of the franchise on the North Side.