Chicago Cubs: The best is yet to come for Javier Baez
Over the last few seasons, we have witnessed Javier Baez turn into a superstar in this game, but could the best of Baez be yet to come?
The Chicago Cubs‘ Javier Baez burst onto the national radar during the postseason in 2016 as he was awarded Co-MVP of the 2016 NLCS with Jon Lester. That’s when Baez made a name for himself around the world in baseball.
As Cubs fans, we saw flashes of what he could in the previous years. Baez made his MLB debut in 2014 in Colorado, and in typical Baez, fashion made an impact right away. Heading into the 12th inning, Baez was 0-5 with three strikeouts; then he hit what ended up being a game-winning home run. It kind of became a habit for Cubs prospects to have their first hit in the majors be a home run. Baez, Jorge Soler, Willson Contreras, and Ian Happ all homered for their first hit.
We also saw Baez struggle in his first few years. We all know he was a “free swinger,” but his strikeout rates were WAY up in his first few seasons and his walks were down.
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Baez turned the corner in 2018. We started to see the Baez that we all thought he could be both offensively and defensively. Baez was terrific in 2018. He had an average of .290 with 34 home runs and a league-leading 111 RBIs.
His 5.3 WAR was the 15th best of any Cub in the last 30 seasons. He finally broke out. Baez was named the starting second baseman for the NL All-Star team, silver slugger for the second baseman, and finished second in NL MVP voting behind Christian Yelich.
Baez’s 2019 wasn’t as good as his 2018, but he was still darn good. In 138 games, the 27-year-old shortstop hit .281/.316/.531 with 29 home runs, 85 RBIs, and a 114 wRC+.Injuries sidelined Baez a few times in 2019.
In May, he dealt with a heel injury that made him struggle for a few weeks. Then on Sept 1st Baez fractured his thumb sliding into second base during a game against the Brewers that ended up ending his season. If those injuries don’t happen, who knows he could have had an even better season than the year before.
Looking toward the future for Baez, I think we haven’t seen the best of him yet. I still believe that he can improve. If he can continue to walk more and cut down on the strikeouts, he will get even more dangerous at the plate. As long as he is healthy, Baez will play almost every single day, according to David Ross. Witch is a piece of great news for Chicago Cubs fans everywhere.
There has been some speculation about a contract extension in the works for Baez. It has been put on hold with what is going on in the world. Hopefully, the Chicago Cubs and Baez can work out a deal to keep Baez on the North Side for many years to come.
Whenever baseball comes back, I expect El Mago to come back better than ever before.