It’s always harder to enjoy cool moments from games that otherwise left you wanting to dropkick a hamburger, but this is nevertheless pretty darn awesome:
Javy Baez is the first Cub since Corey Patterson in 2004 to record at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases as he reached 20 in the latter category in the first inning today. He has 25 home runs and 89 RBI to go along with his 20 steals. He leads the… https://t.co/FxOSqPsRNR
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 19, 2018
Ah, Corey Patterson. Can you imagine Cubs fans deconstructing him in the current era? He really wasn’t as contact-challenged as you probably remember, though his mid-20s strikeout rate with the Cubs was almost comically higher than the league-average 16ish percent of those days (man, the game has changed SO much … ).
As for Baez, it isn’t just impressive that he’s pulled off this power-speed combination – although that does make for a more robust offensive talent, as defenses have to respect your power while also trying to guard against your speed. It’s also very impressive that Baez managed his 20 stolen bases against just 5 caught stealing (one of which, you might remember, was a really bizarre one that totally should not have counted because he got the base on an errant throw by the pitcher!). That’s a perfectly good and useful ratio, unlike those guys who steal two for every time they’re thrown out (and thus actually take away value from the team).
Could Baez get to 30-30? Well, he needs just five more homers, so that’s certainly plausible. Heck, I’d predict it at this point. But stealing 10 more bases in the final 40 days would require some *really* aggressive baserunning and a *really* strong OBP the rest of the way. It’s possible, but I’m not sure it’s possible without Baez specifically trying to go for it. And until the Cubs are much closer to clinching, I don’t necessarily want to see him out there doing anything other than being Natural Javy. Sometimes that’ll mean going for a steal, and sometimes it won’t.
So, for today, then, I’ll just enjoy the fact that Javy Baez is the Cubs’ first 20-20 player in nearly 15 years. That’s cool.