Cubs fans in the stands could propel Javier Baez to a monster year

Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s a big year for Javier Baez. The Cubs shortstop is looking to put a horrendous 2020 season in the rearview mirror and 2021 marks a contract year for the former All-Star.

He’s poised to be part of what’s being billed as the most elite free agent class of shortstops in the game’s history – including the likes of Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and Trevor Story. Of course, being in such elite company could push Baez to stay with Chicago long-term, but we’ll have to wait and see how that all plays out.

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All the change and the unprecedented circumstances surrounding every single one of the team’s 60 regular season games really seemed to take Baez out of his element. No fans, not starting the season until what would historically be post-All-Star break and no in-game video access were all detriments to his play.

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Now, with things expected to feel more ‘normal’ in 2021, Baez is ready to get back to dominating on the diamond.

"“I think when he’s right and gets to be himself and the pure entertainer he is, he’s at his best,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “I’m looking for a great season from Javy. I think he’s going to have a special year. “"

Last season, Baez batted just .203/.238/.316 with his power evaporating into thin air. That performance stood in stark contrast to what he’d done in the three previous seasons, over which he posted a .282/.320/.525 line at the plate while playing highlight-reel defense in the field.

Baez was one of just two Cubs hitters to tally a base hit in Monday’s Cactus League opener, a bullet off the bat into center field. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come for the two-time All-Star.

"“It was two months of baseball that I felt in a rush. I felt like I didn’t have time to make adjustments. I’m not the guy that shows you everything I got in the first half. I can have a bad half or a decent first half and then my second half, I can make the first half disappear.”"

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Adjustments have long been a key part of Baez’s success. With his head in the right place and the lessons learned during a tough 2020, the Cubs shortstop is ready to get things back on track this year on the North Side.