The Impressiveness of Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks and Other Bullets

Social Navigation

The Impressiveness of Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

kyle hendricks cubs featureEpisode 2 of BNTV records live tonight at 8pm CT (9pm ET). Show up and join in on the fun – you can offer up thoughts/comments/questions in the comments and on Twitter, and we can do some interacting. Live. Because that’s the point! And if you miss the live recording, you can watch later, because it plays out similarly to a podcast, with (in theory) thoughtful discussions and stuff. The BNTV page is here, where you can subscribe and watch older videos.

See you at 8pm CT. Until then …

  • Pitchers are taking to Javier Baez in historic fashion. What I do I mean? Well, you’re going to want to sprint to this Jeff Sullivan piece to get an idea of how infrequently Baez is seeing pitches in the zone and how infrequently he’s seeing fastballs. In such a small sample, it didn’t feel like he was being pitched to in any extreme way, but it turns out that he is. Like, more extreme in the first two weeks of a rookie season for anyone since this level of data was recorded back in 2008 (like, more than Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, etc.). The reason appears to be two-fold: (1) pitchers are already concerned about what Baez could do if they leave something out over the plate; and (2) Baez has been followed so closely for so long that there was already a significant “book” out on how to attack him.
  • Given all that, it’s pretty damn impressive that while, yes, Baez has huge K numbers, he’s still sporting a .336 wOBA and 111 wRC+. Here’s where we hope that the next adjustment comes from him.
  • (And if you missed Baez’s monster shot yesterday … )
  • Also impressive: Kyle Hendricks. His sixth straight quality start yesterday makes him the first Cubs rookie to pull that off since Kerry Wood back in 1998. Yes, there are a number of indicators in Hendricks’ peripherals that suggest he’s due for regression, but I’ll save that for another day. Instead, let’s talk about some peripherals that point to some “realness” in his success: 19.7%, 50.0% and 14.0%. Those are Hendricks’ line drive rate, groundball rate, and infield fly ball rate, respectively. All are much better than average, and point to the same thing: guys are not getting solid contact off of Hendricks consistently. No, he’s not missing a ton of bats, and yes, he is allowing a huge number of balls into play (historically, that leads to damage over a long enough period of time), but so far, he’s not giving up a lot of hard contact. Is that a particular skill of his? A small sample fluke? A matter of teams needing to see him more than once? We’ll find out over time, but, for now, we can say that in this stretch of games, batters aren’t making much hard contact off of Hendricks’ offerings. That’s good.
  • Kris Bryant was able to pinch hit last night for the Iowa Cubs, and took a walk. He was thereafter lifted for a pinch runner. Still, good sign.
  • Rhode Island lost to the Illinois squad from Jackie Robinson West in Chicago, but their coach didn’t make it seem like a loss in his post-game remarks to his players. Well done, coach.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.