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With apologies to Jon Lester, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, and even Kris Bryant, the 2016 postseason belongs to one man: Javy Baez.
You know this, I know this, heck, even FS1 is beginning to come around.
And while it’s easy for Cubs fans to say, “Yeah, well, we knew he was this good all season long!”, the truth is … that’s not really the truth.
Javy Baez is good – really good – and this postseason has certainly proved that. But can we honestly say this is the Baez we expected?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m about one diving play away from getting a tattoo of this guy’s face on the back of neck. I’m mostly trying to emphasize that he’s been playing at an almost unimaginably high level. Defense, average, power, base-stealing, there’s not one baseball ability you can name that Baez hasn’t demonstrated in the extreme … or didn’t show off last night.
In five plate appearances, Baez went 3-5 with two doubles (including a two-out, bases clearing, 3-RBI double) and a stolen base. And even though it happened near the end of the game, let’s start with a look at that (essentially) game-clinching double in the eighth:
That was Baez’s third hit and second double of the night, which put the game well out of reach for the Dodgers. According to Statcast, it came off Javy’s bat at 104 MPH before traveling 356 feet into the right field corner – in other words, he smoked it. In addition to the hits, Baez also stole another base – which you can watch here – capping off quite the overall offensive performance in Game 5.
After playing in all nine of the Cubs’ 2016 postseason games, Baez is slashing .371/.395/.571 (.966 OPS) with 4 doubles, a home run, and two stolen bases overall. At the plate and on the bases, Javy Baez shines.
Of course, he may shine even brighter in the field.
In Game 5 of the NLCS, Javy Baez put together another strong performance on defense, making a handful of seemingly-impossible plays possible. One of the most impressive ones, came on a near-perfect bunt attempt by Dodgers first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez:
As we know, the Dodgers’ main offensive strategy for the evening was to be aggressive on the base paths and bunt, a lot. And this bunt in the bottom of the seventh inning off the bat of Gonzalez almost fell in for a hit. The only problem is that Gonzalez failed to follow the one rule of baseball: don’t hit anything towards Javier Baez.
Check out how far Baez had to go, from starting position to fielding position, in order to make this play happen:
I know it's Gonzalez running but look how far Javy had to go on this one pic.twitter.com/NKa5zNbAD9
— Cooper (@RushingBaseball) October 21, 2016
Baez then bare-handed the ball and threw to first just in time (upon replay, that is) to get the admittedly slow, but certainly hustling Adrian Gonzalez at first. Unbelievable.
So he can hit, he can run, and he can play defense. But what else can he do? Well not that he needs to do anything else, but Javy Baez can also have fun. Take, for example, what he did with Anthony Rizzo last night on an infield pop-up … in a run one game … in a tied NLCS … with Clayton Kershaw looming over the weekend:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 21, 2016
Oh, Javy. Pop on over to Baseball is Fun for a complete write-up of the Baez/Rizzo’s shenanigans, we have a few more highlights to feed our eye tongues.
The @Cubs twitter account (which is an absolute must-follow (and not just because they’re the Cubs)) put together something of a video package of Javy’s Game 5, including another great defensive play, his other double, and even more swagger. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was the highlights for his whole series:
Báez Ravine pic.twitter.com/zGxuy2z2qd
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 21, 2016
Wherever the Cubs end up this fall, this has been an unbelievable and fun ride. And Javy Baez has been at the center of it all.