The Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez has shown his confidence and ability to shine in the spotlight, but in 2020 showing discipline will be crucial for his development in this league
In a league where on-base-percentage has become very important, the Chicago Cubs have to do a better job finding ways to get on base. Too often, we are seeing the players try to be too flashy, which is detrimental to the overall ability to score runs.
One of the players this relates to in a big way is Javier Baez. As we enter spring training and the 2020 season, it will be crucial for Baez to focus on his walk rate to help improve his ability to get on base.
With one of the most disciplined batters in recent Cubs memory not returning in 2020, the Cubs will have to find ways to fill the void Ben Zobrist is leaving. In four seasons with the Cubs, he sported an on-base-percentage of .362 and taught his teammates a lot about having a good eye.
Baez is a considerable candidate to help pick up some of the slack without Zobrist. In six seasons, Baez has posted just an on-base percentage of .310. To put things into perspective, his 2019 on-base-percentage was .316 (higher than his career average) yet was still below the MLB league average of .323.
One big way Baez can improve this number in 2020 is by focusing on his walk rate. These are Baez’s walk rate percentages in the last three seasons:
Minimal numbers and when we compared this to Zobrist’s 10.57% in 2018, we see Baez has a long way to go in developing his eye.
One positive sign we have seen from Baez so far this spring training is his ability to draw walks. Through 14 plate appearances, he has drawn four walks, suitable for a walk rate of 28.5%. If Baez can improve his discipline at the plate, he will not only help his team by creating more opportunities to score runs, but he will earn more respect from pitchers and see fewer pitches out of the zone that he is notorious for chasing.
Baez is known to be a flashy player and has impressed everyone around baseball in many ways. In my belief, his discipline is the one thing holding him back from true greatness. With David Ross coming into batten down the hatches, Baez has an excellent opportunity ahead of him to focus on the little things in order to improve his skills.
The key for the Cubs this season is to do the little things well and to play clean baseball. The players need to hone in and focus if they want to do what the majority doesn’t think they’re capable of. Baez was the one to emphasize the laziness from the 2019 group, and he has the perfect opportunity to be the leader of a more locked in, committed group in 2020.