Javy Baez Providing “Energy” for the Cubs Near the Top of the Order, and Gets a Manny Ramirez Comp

When a younger hitter – or a previously struggling hitter – starts finding consistent success down in the batting order, his team’s manager is thrown a dilemma: leave him where he’s having success, or move him up the order to try to take better advantage of that production?

Yesterday, Joe Maddon opted for the latter with Javy Baez, who moved up to the two-hole in the order, and responded with an opposite-field triple to open up the team’s scoring, and then later another hit to the opposite field.

It’s been part of a season-long trend for Baez so far, who is using all fields and scalding the ball (two things his teammates joined him in yesterday). Baez, in his third full season in the big leagues at age 25, is hitting .250/.344/.679 here in the early going, and looking like the guy we always knew he *could* be at the plate, even if it seemed, at times, like it was highly unlikely.

The way Joe Maddon described that extreme potential in Baez’s bat? “You’re seeing the ascension,” Maddon told NBC. “I’ve talked about this for a bit — where the moment he starts laying off the down-and-away slider, he’s Manny Ramirez. He’s got that kind of [ability] at the plate. It’s just a matter of maturing as a hitter, which he will.”

YO.

It’s an especially interesting comparison, given that Ramirez and Baez spent some time together at Iowa and as a Cubs hitting consultant. It’s also not one I would have foreseen, given that Ramirez was always elite at organizing his strike zone (accepting walks, limiting strike outs, punishing certain zones), and Baez came up as anything but. Baez has been improving in that regard, though, and he certainly has power to all fields that is evocative of Ramirez.

There’s also the whole ‘Manny being Manny’ and ‘Javy being Javy’ thing … though the latter is a compliment, while the former was not.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As for hitting him up near the top of the lineup, Maddon acknowledged that he wanted to provide a little “energy” at the top of the order, hence moving Baez up there (Cubs.com). It’ll be interesting to see if that sticks through this weekend at hitter-friendly Coors Field. I don’t love moving Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo even a single spot down in the order, but if Baez is hitting like this? You’re obviously not losing anything by doing it, and, in fact, have a whole lot to gain.

Miscellaneous Javy tweets of note/enjoyment:

https://twitter.com/RandallJSanders/status/987344497561554944

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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