Cubs: Javier Baez is projected for absolutely insane numbers this year

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Cubs: Javier Baez is on pace for a ridiculous set of numbers

Who else amongst shortstops can make the plays he does, pop balls to right-center the way he can, and electrify the basepaths on both ends the way our favorite shortstop can? It’s a pretty short list. Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts? Maybe you could extend to guys like Bo Bichette or crosstown rival Tim Anderson, but I don’t think they have that same level of pop. Either way, Baez is on a short list and amongst the best all-around baseball players in the world right now.

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While fans may have been disappointed in his performance in the bizarro-world 2020 season,  what Baez is currently doing in a slightly more normalized season in 2021 could end up being one of the most bizarro statistical seasons ever. Sure, most projections in April aren’t going to pan out over 162 games, but can anyone say that what Baez is doing right now isn’t believable or sustainable over the course of the season?

As it stands today, his 15.8 barrel % and 91.3 mph average exit velocity would be the highest of his career over the course of a whole season, as would the 44.9% strikeout percentage, but my guess is that percentage will level off somewhere around 30-35% as Baez goes through one of his signature hot streaks (which he could be entering right now, quite honestly). He’s certainly not going to walk very much, so the BB% could certainly stay low as the home runs stay high.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Baez ends up trading some of those projected home runs for doubles over the course of the summer and ends up between 30-40 of each. The daring he’s shown on the bases so far has been awesome, but it’s hard to see him continuing to put his hands and legs in jeopardy throughout the season in regards to stolen bases; he’ll probably end up with about 20.

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Of course, lastly, Baez will continue his trademark elite defense along with whatever he ends up doing at the plate, continuing to make the Cubs decision to extend or trade Baez harder and harder as summer looms.