Javier Baez is one of the most interesting players in all of MLB. The 25-year-old Puerto Rican-native is nearing the NL leaders in RBIs and home runs at 56 and 16, respectively. Javy, or as Cubs fans call him, ‘El Mago’, is more known for his incredible athletic ability at second base having arguably the quickest tag in the history of the game. But everyone knows about his defensive strengths. What is new to the fans this year is his ability to score runners.
Video Credit: Crazy for Baseball
The Cubs currently lead the majors with an average of eight players LOB (teamrankings.com), and despite that fact, the Cubs rank eighth in MLB for total runs at 369 currently. Javy accounts for about 27 percent of all runs scored by the Cubs this year by the way of RBIs and runs scored. His most alarming offensive statistic you ask? Walks.
Javy has 12 walks this year (excluding IBB) which puts him towards the bottom of the list of qualifying batters of 200 AB or more. Dee Gordon from the Mariners leads that category with five walks somehow.
When Baez talked about his intense strategy with Cubs reporter Carrie Muskat, he said “I don’t go out there looking for a walk. As long as the pitcher is there, I’m swinging.” And despite this bold strategy, Javy doesn’t strike out that much. He is currently sitting at 73 strikeouts and is tied for 41st place in the majors (ironically, so is Kyle Schwarber). His avg. is a respectable .276 and his OBP is .315.
Javy reminds me of another young former Cub, Starlin Castro, who now plays in Miami. His approach to the plate was very similar in that he swung at anything close to the plate. Oftentimes, he would nearly throw the bat at the ball as long as it meant contact. Of course most MLB pitchers know about this and will throw that delicious-looking slider low and away to Javy as if to tease him with an outside fastball only for it to break just out of reach of the bat.
Photo Credit: ChicagoNow.com
If at the beginning of the season you would have told me that one player on the Cubs was responsible for 27 percent of all the runs scored this year than I would have assumed that person would mean Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant, but certainly not Javy. With only two and a half weeks until the All-Star game, Javy is only 20 RBIs away from his career high of 75 RBIs that he accomplished in 2017. He still has an entire half-season of baseball to play.
Speaking of All-Star games, it just seems as if it is pure bad luck for Javy that the Braves’ Ozzie Albies is having a ever-so-slightly better year at second base in his sophomore year in the big leagues. As of June 24th, Javy is looking at about 1.2 million all-star votes to Albies 1.4 million (MLB.com). Even if he does not start, Javy is likely to make his first ever All-Star team this year because of the year he is having.
Occasionally, Javy finds himself in a little rut only to climb back out in dramatic fashion like he did last night against the Dodgers with five RBIs and two home runs. Prior to last nights game, Javy only had five RBIs since June 7th. Cubs fans everywhere can only hope that Javy can continue this trend. Love him or hate him, his energy on and off the field is a great thing for the game of baseball.
Photo Credit: CubsInsider.com
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