Perhaps no two players on the Cubs offense boast more pure, remaining upside than Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber. The former has lightening fast bat speed – the likes of which isn’t seen very often – and the latter has the sort of foundational skills (ability to hit for average (he will) and draw plenty of walks (he already does)) and elite power that could elevate him among the best bats in the game.
And yet both were in the midst of a fairly deep slump entering play on Sunday.
Since May 11 (and before Sunday), Javier Baez had gone 5-35 with four singles, a triple, and 13 strikeouts (-21 wRC+, 36.1 K%), while Kyle Schwarber had gone 3-24 with two singles, a double, and 8Ks of his own (73 wRC+). To be fair, both guys had some very promising peripherals during that stretch (Baez had just a 4.4% soft-hit rate and a 34.8% hard-hit rate, while Schwarber drew a massive 11 walks, good for a 31.4% walk rate), but overall, the bad out-weighed the good.
Which is why they both really needed their solid days at the plate on Sunday.
In four trips to the plate, Javier Baez smashed three hits, including his eleventh home run of the season, and made some good contact along the way:
PA #1: 102 MPH home run to CF
PA #2: 83 MPH line-drive single to RF
PA #3: 113 MPH line-drive single to LF
PA #4: 96 MPH Flyout to RF
Three of Baez’s four balls in play were smoked, and he used the entire field all afternoon (two balls to right, one to center, one to left). Although it wasn’t the best day of his career, the performance dropped his strikeout rate from 23.1% to 22.6% and rose his overall production from 115 wRC+ to 124 wRC+. That’s a fantastic day’s work – especially against a righty like Tyler Mahle, who has crushed right handers this year (.407 wOBA v. Lefties, .290 wOBA v. righties).
And don’t sleep on Schwarber, either. He added two hits that day, including his eighth home run of the season (a 107 MPH line drive blast) and one of the most beautifully laid bunts you’ll ever see. Sunday’s performance raised his overall production from 129 wRC+ to 136 wRC+.
In terms of where each guy stands league-wide, Schwarber’s 136 wRC+ ranks 32nd in all of baseball (18th in the NL) and Baez’s 124 wRC+ is tied for 57th in MLB (29th in the NL).
Perhaps each knew how rough the road had been for the other guy, because they sure seemed happy for each other throughout the day.
— Cubs Live (@Cubs_Live) May 20, 2018
"No, no, Javy, let me speak to this gentleman."
"But, Kyle, I WANT TO BAT!" pic.twitter.com/WXMGZCbJ19
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 21, 2018
The #SchwarBaez bromance continues to shine.