Although we often view Javy Baez’s specialness through the lens of his El Mago Moments, we also have to remember to step back at times and view the entire picture. Because this is a dude who is having an incredible season.
Baez, 25, has always offered the promise of tremendous offensive upside to pair with the defensive and base running abilities that were apparent when he debuted in the big leagues as a 21-year-old. But living into that ability proved elusive, as big league pitchers took advantage of Baez’s aggressiveness, and he couldn’t quite seem to barrel the ball often enough to make up for how often he was otherwise missing.
That has unquestionably changed this season.
Baez’s line drive rate and hard contact rate are up enormously this season, while his strikeout rate is staying in a very playable range, just barely above league-average. No, he doesn’t walk often, but his .327 OBP is still above the National League average (.319) because he’s getting so many hits. And, the nice thing about that is that it’s not like he’s lucking into those hits – not only is he making great contact, as mentioned, his .344 BABIP is right in line with his mark last year, and only nine points above his career average.
In all, Baez is hitting .294/.327/.565 with a 132 wRC+. That’s the 13th highest wRC+ in the NL, and best on the Cubs – one point ahead of Kris Bryant. By WAR, Baez’s 3.1 wins make him the 7th most valuable player in the NL this year, though I think Cubs fans agree he’s somehow worth much more than that.
Let’s enjoy his big day yesterday, which helped push up all those numbers, and, more importantly, helped the Cubs win:
Four hits today for @javy23baez.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 8, 2018
The long-awaited breakout is here.