We Got the Full Javy This Weekend, And Really for Most of August

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We Got the Full Javy This Weekend, And Really for Most of August

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs Highlights

Back at the beginning of August, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell hit the disabled list with a right foot strain that’s kept him out for the last three weeks.

Losing Russell is a bummer, and the Cubs are undoubtedly worse overall without him, but there has been a silver lining, and his name is Javier Baez.

In Russell’s absence, Javy Baez has started 17 straight games at shortstop, and including his start at second base on August 1, he’s hit .290/.329/.638 during that stretch with seven homers, a triple, a double, and three stolen bases this month. That’s a 136 wRC+ from your shortstop. Wowza.

But despite how good he’s been for the entire month (and second-half, really), Baez’s work over the weekend was something particularly special. So let’s take a moment and appreciate everything he did … starting with his defense.

On Friday, Baez kicked off the weekend with this absolute gem of a play at shortstop to get the second out of the inning:

And then in the exact same position the very next day (one out in the ninth, Cubs leading the Blue Jays), Baez made ANOTHER brilliant stop to inch the Cubs closer to victory:

But it wasn’t just his defense that shined over the weekend, he broke out his bat against the Blue Jays too. On Friday, for one example, Baez crushed his 20th home run of the season, to give the Cubs some insurance in the bottom of the 8th:

That homer came just one day after hitting his 19th at Wrigley Field, to boot. On Saturday, Baez went 1-3 with a walk at the plate, but that one hit gave the Cubs the lead in the bottom of the 6th inning.

And then on Sunday, Baez may have gone 0-5 at the plate, but he got aboard on a dropped third strike in the bottom of the 10th inning, stole second base, and scored the game-winning run on what will probably prove to be one of the most memorable moments of the Cubs 2017 season:

As of today, Baez is slashing .268/.308/.500 on the season with 20 home runs and six stolen bases, which is good for a 98 wRC+. His strikeout rate is under 29% and his walk rate is above 5.0%, neither of which were guarantees just a year and a half ago.

And although that overall line may not look like much, it marks serious improvements for Baez pretty much across the board:

And, of course, if you limit that sample to the second half of the season, you’ll see that Baez has been a DECIDEDLY above average offensive contributor for a while now: .295/.336/.607 (132 wRC+ in the second half). And in reality, Baez’s 111 wRC+ since May 1 (316 plate appearances) prove he’s been above average at the plate for a lot longer than that.

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

And perhaps the most impressive bit about Baez is that in the month of August – when the Cubs needed him most – he’s really stepped up, taken on a ton of responsibility and shined in the process.

So on this, the end of the weekend of Baez, enjoy one more montage of his excellent work while covering for Addison Russell in the month of August:



Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.