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javier baez aflYesterday Javier Baez broke through the Mendoza line. On the seventh day of his hitting streak Baez doubled twice, homered, and finished with four hits. His batting average now sit at .201. This is one of those accomplishments that only derives significance as part of a broader narrative.

On May 15, the day before this hitting streak began, Baez had a batting average of just .145. Thanks in part to a great deal of offensive success and in part to the magic of small sample sizes, Baez has managed to raise his batting average nearly sixty points in a week. That is not only good, it is a good sign. It is a sign that the Baez breakout we have all been waiting for is here.

At this stage I think we can lay aside any lingering questions about Baez’s eyesight, his ability to hit during the day or at night, his ability to hit on the road or at home, and pretty much any other speculated factor. As we have seen in previous Baez breakdowns, the changes that are resulting in this success appear to be changes in his approach and mechanics. The bat wiggle is mostly gone and the line drive percentage is climbing. The strikeouts are coming down. All over the stat sheet the signs are starting to turn positive.

We are not out of the woods yet, though. It remains possible that this could just be a random hot streak that will soon vanish, but based in part on the video we saw yesterday I tend to doubt that is the case. I suspect this is real, that Baez has turned the corner, and that an Era of Unbridled Optimism will be arriving soon, ushered in by the sounds of balls leaping off the bat of Javier Baez.

Time will tell.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – A five run fourth carried Iowa to a 7-2 win.
Tennessee – The Smokies had to rally in the ninth for this 6-5 win.
Daytona – The Cubs lost this one in the ninth inning by a final of 2-1.
Kane County – With Brett in attendance, Kane County cruised to a 6-1 win.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Dallas Beeler allowed 3 hits, including a solo homer, and struck out 6 in his 7 innings of work.
  • [Iowa] After his 4 for 5 day, Javier Baez now has 6 doubles and 6 home runs.
  • [Iowa] Matt Szczur had two hits and Brett Jackson doubled and walked in this one.
  • [Tennessee] Kris Bryant finished 3 for 3 with a double, two walks, and his 6th stolen base. He now has three straight games without a strikeout.
  • [Tennessee] Stephen Bruno walked and hit another pair of doubles in this one. The second baseman actually has 3 more doubles than Bryant (but Bryant beats him handily in the homers category).
  • [Tennessee] Corey Black allowed 3 hits, including a solo homer, and 3 walks while striking out 7 over 5 innings.
  • [Daytona] Jeimer Candelario finished 2 for 4.
  • [Daytona] Willson Contreras, a catcher, doubled twice and tripled in his 3 for 4 day.
  • [Daytona] Zack Godley, who was completely dominant in Kane County, struggled in this game for the Cubs. Both of his outs came on strikeouts, but he allowed a pair of runs to score on 2 hits and a walk. It will be interesting to see how he responds to this in his next outing.
  • [Kane County] Carlos Penalver and Ben Carhart (playing third in this one) both had two hits.
  • [Kane County] Paul Blackburn struck out 6 in 7 shutout innings.

Other News

  • I am on the road for another family event this weekend and into next week, so I will likely not be around the comments or on Twitter as much as I normally am. The articles should continue to flow, though they may be a little lighter on content a time or two.
  • Arodys Vizcaino had an ugly game. He allowed three runs on three hits and a walk to blow a three run lead in the ninth inning. Care to guess which pitcher got credit for the win? I’ll give you a clue – it was the same guy who blew a three run lead in the ninth. Anyone who wants to defend the win as a pitching statistic can start by explaining why exactly Vizcaino deserved a ‘W’ for that performance.
  • Brett: I had the pleasure of taking in last night’s Kane County game in Geneva, which was a pretty easy jaunt from Chicago, and one that I’d never done before (dude: Naperville is a suburb on steroids). Fifth Third Bank Ballpark is lovely, and there were plenty of excellent seats available – I was able to sit pretty much at the fence, right behind home plate. That gave me a good view to Paul Blackburn’s start, which was impressive. He’s a big, strong guy, who’s got a smooth, consistent delivery, and there’s not a lot of effort there. I can see why scouts compliment his command and repeatability, and he showed some great break on his curveball, too. I’d say he was giving up a little more solid contact than I would have liked to have seen (the kind of thing that doesn’t show up in the box score), but you didn’t have to squint to see a future big league pitcher.
  • Speaking of smooth, Carlos Penalver is really fluid and natural in the field, and it’s easy to see him sticking at shortstop long-term. He smacked a couple balls solidly at the plate, too, which belied his size (he’s quite small, and probably could stand to fill out a bit).

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