When big things happen, people have thoughts. The people …
- Writing at Baseball Prospectus, Mauricio Rubio and Jordan Gorosh emphasize patience when it comes to observing Javier Baez in the early going. A selection from the lengthy piece: “It’s no secret that Baez is going to have a steeper learning curve than most prospects. His game is still raw, and the approach at the plate needs a lot of work. It’s partly a pitch recognition issue, coupled with a violent swing that leaves him exposed to pitches down and out of the zone. Right now, falling behind in the count is a near automatic out, so he’ll need to stay in fastball counts or ambush early. Pitchers know this and will likely try the ‘hard in/soft away’ method. With his current plan of attack, that seems to be the most logical idea. The adjustment to major-league offspeed offerings is going to be the biggest hurdle for Baez, as he’s likely going to be eaten alive for the first go around the league. He’s a mistake hitter – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because 30 or 40 mistakes a year could go into orbit – but well executed sequencing is going to cause Baez to scuffle. While it’s fair to be hopeful thanks to Baez’s aforementioned ability to adjust, adapting to major-league pitching is a whole different animal. Temper expectations, because it could take 1,000 PA before it starts to come together.”
- Over at Baseball America, J.J. Cooper has a similar take. A selection from the piece (which includes fun videos and GIFs): “What he doesn’t have yet is a consistent understanding as to how to handle pitchers who can locate quality secondary stuff in the zone. Baez’s power comes with a lot of swing and miss. His 30 percent strikeout rate this season is the third worst in the Pacific Coast League. Baez does not tone down his swing when he gets behind in the count, and his aggressiveness ensures that crafty pitchers can get him to expand his zone and chase. He’s dead last among PCL qualifiers in swinging-strike percentage (source: Minor League Central) and also dead last in swing-and-miss percentage (37 percent of all swings).”
- Keep in mind on both of those reads, even as your instinct may be the fear that they skew negative, they are saying Baez’s potential is otherworldly. But he’s a 21-year-old with – at least until very recently – an aggressive approach, and a history of too eagerly swinging at everything that starts near the zone. No one is saying don’t be excited – they’re just saying that it could take time for the real fruits to come.
- Sahadev Sharma was on the Effectively Wild podcast to discuss the Baez call-up, and I think just about everything he said was spot-on.
- Ryan Parker digs in deep on Baez’s swing mechanics, with big league comps, and a discussion of minor adjustments that could benefit the slugger.
- If you want to do something really stupid to yourself, check out what the Oliver projections (which often skew optimistic, if I’m remembering correctly) are saying about Baez’s next five years. The short version? Home runs increasing from 35 to 46, wOBAs increasing from .337 to .385, and WARs increasing from 4.3 to 6.7. Nope. Won’t let myself believe that. Not right now.
- Matt Spiegel does an excellent job of summing up what the Cubs universe can be like in situations like this:
As a reminder: the first at bat for Javy Baez tonight will dictate the entirety of his baseball career. So good luck, kid.
— Matt Spiegel (@MattSpiegel670) August 5, 2014
- Fun, fun, fun:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 4, 2014
- Fun, fun, fun part 2:
— Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) August 5, 2014
- And one more from me: I don’t think you can draw bright lines – nothing is fundamentally different in the Cubs’ organization today from yesterday – but this promotion is another in a series of moments that we’ll look back on in future years, when the Cubs are competing, and we’ll know it was all happening then.