Chicago Cubs News: Magicians are hard to replace, but Christopher Morel is El Mago 2.0

When you watch the Chicago Cubs play it's hard not to compare the infectious smile of Christopher Morel to Javier Baez's almost a decade ago, but that's not the only thing that they have in common.

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There are few players in baseball history that have had as strong an impact on my fanhood as Javier Baez. He was the Chicago Cubs prospect who gave me hope in the rebuilding years with tales of long home runs in the minors. I live in Texas and my dad was in town visiting on the night that Baez got the call to play in Colorado against the Rockies. We went to three different bars trying to find somewhere showing that game between the two goliaths with a combined 92-132 record until we finally found one.

My dad is a fan of the Cubs but he wasn’t as deeply invested in the minor league system as I was and he asked me what to expect from the kid I worked so hard to watch. I told him he’s the kind of player that could go 1-for-6 with five strikeouts and a 500-foot home run. He didn’t. He went 1-for-6 with three strikeouts and a game-winning home run.

From that point on El Mago was one of the fan favorites in Wrigley. His bat was as powerful as anyone’s in the league, he played Gold Glove-caliber defense at multiple positions and he was a true joy to watch on the basepaths. No matter how many times I tell myself that he is playing poorly in Detroit and that Pete Crow-Armstrong could be the future of this team, it doesn’t make that trade with the Mets hurt less.

However, the thing that does soften the blow of losing such an electric player is that the Cubs seemingly have the second-coming of Javy on the roster right now in the form of Christopher Morel.

Javier Baez was a special player and there were a lot of things that made him special. He was an impatient hitter with insane power. He was a tremendous defender and baserunner. But most importantly he brought the fun to the locker room and on days that were difficult he was able to bring a smile to his teammate’s faces. That matters.

Christopher Morel is shockingly similar from a statistical perspective as a hitter. Looking at Baez’s first three seasons in the majors and Morel’s first two (to get plate appearances as close as possible) the numbers actually favor Morel across the board:


Javier Baez (14-16)

Christopher Morel (22-23)

Plate Appearances



Slash Line















Runs Scored






Pitches Seen Per At Bat



Percentage of Pitches Swung at






Strikeouts Swinging



Morel has a better OBP, Slugging percentage, more pitches seen per at bat, and more doubles, triples, homers, RBI, and runs scored than Javy in a similar sample size. Sure, they both strike out... a lot... but the numbers were truly shocking to break down between a player who was supposed to be the first piece to building a dynasty and a player who was kept off of the opening-day roster in favor of Eric Hosmer.

Now, obviously, Javier Baez couldn't be quantified solely based on what he provided in the batter's box. He was a tremendous fielder and exceptional baserunner as well and in those areas, his skill surpassed Morel's relatively easily.


Javier Baez (14-16)

Christopher Morel (22-23)

Stolen Bases






Baez obviously had more stolen bases than Morel has and he was a significant net positive in the field whereas Morel has been a significant net negative regardless of whether the Cubs plug him in at third base or in the outfield. That being said, the difference between the 2023 season and Baez's time with the Cubs is that the designated hitter has made its way to the National League now and Morel can exist as a great hitter alone.

In my opinion, the most important thing that Javy brought to the last great Cubs team was hope. He brought joy to his teammates and fans and his arrival meant that the long rebuild was coming to a close and the team was attempting to win now. Morel's arrival in May didn't feel exactly the same way, but in hindsight, the meaning behind his promotion was the same: the rebuild was coming to a close and the team was attempting to win now.

Here's looking forward to the next time he hits a walk off home run and has his shirt off by the time he reaches home plate.

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