Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez needs to lower his chase percentage

Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Although considered an early MVP candidate, this Chicago Cubs star must work on a very frustrating habit.

Whether you’re a patient hitter or feared, tallying walks is positive. Last season, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant recorded 74 walks — enough to tie Josh Bell of the Pittsburgh Pirates for 14th most in the National League.

When comparing Bryant’s 2019 walk total to the rest of his team, he was trailed by Anthony Rizzo (71), Kyle Schwarber (70), Jason Heyward (68), and David Bote (44). While Rizzo shouldn’t be much of a surprise, Heyward, on the other hand, hadn’t walked 60+ times in a season in five years.

Overall, Jason improved his offensive production after stalling out of the gate in 2016. Hopefully, he’ll continue to where he left off once baseball operations have resumed.

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Joining the likes of Rizzo and Bryant, Javier Baez is another name who has been tabbed as a star of the game. The man nicknamed El Mago put the league on notice with another power-packed campaign in which he hit 34 home runs, 111 RBI and 176 while slashing .209/.316/.531/.847.

Slowly but surely, Baez is getting close to earning himself Most Valuable Player hardware. A feat that will not come easy with Cody Bellinger, Pete Alonso, Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, Christian Yelich, and now Mookie Betts aiming to accomplish the same yearly goal.

Last season, Javier worked 28 walks (three intentional) while striking out 156 times through 531 at-bats. To follow-up, he chased 42.1% of pitches thrown outside of the strike zone, the highest chase percentage for an everyday Cubs position player. Granted, his contact was 51.6% while chasing.

Improving in that department would definitely help him out when it comes to drawing more walks and keeping opportunities alive. Unfortunately, chasing is a frustrating habit he has had since making his big league debut with the Cubs in 2015.

So, if you are an opposing pitcher going up against Baez, you know his weakness is chasing even while ahead in the count. If you do not strike him out, getting him to ground out is a sure thing.

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This is where David Ross and hitting coach Anthony Iapoce need to be aggressive. The ceiling for improvement is never capped. Those who strive to be great will do everything in their power to sharpen their game.

Yes, Javier Baez can be considered the face of this franchise. But in order to remain that centerpiece, more growth must be made starting with this specific statistic. Do that, and his game will be taken to the next level.