The Continued Evolution of El Mago, and His Very Special 30/100 Season

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The Continued Evolution of El Mago, and His Very Special 30/100 Season

Chicago Cubs

Although Javy Baez’s unique talent was already on display with the Cubs long before this season, the one thing he’d yet to show in the big leagues was the bat he showed in his rise as a prospect.

We knew when he first came up – in his early 20s, mind you – that strikeouts would be a problem. Baez’s swing was designed for maximum damage, not maximum plate coverage. And his ability to recognize pitches seemed to be, in a word, poor. But each of those areas improved slightly in the ensuing years, and Baez’s contact rate rose, and, along with it, his overall offensive production.

But was that who he was going to be? An average offensive big league bat? Was he going to have to sacrifice a ton of power potential to yield enough contact to survive? I mean, with his defense and baserunning, that’s still a big league starter – a valuable guy, even – but it’s not quite the superstar we hoped he’d someday be.

You know … like the guy he’s become this year.

So, obviously the answer to the questions was no, Baez was not going to be limited to an all-contact or all-flailing type. Consider that Baez’s strikeout rate this year is more or less in line with the 24.0% he put up in 2016, when he went for a very, very high-contact approach. That year, his ISO sank to .150. Last year, as he put a little more authority back into his swing, his ISO climbed to .207, but his strikeout rate climbed to 28.3%.

This year, his strikeout rate is back down to 24.3%, and his ISO is a whopping .281, the second highest mark in the National League.

Yesterday, Baez hit a couple of those fun milestone type numbers on one swing, sending out his 30th homer and notching his 100th RBI.

In so doing, he joined some very special company:

Incredible company for #ElMago. @javy23baez #Cubs #EverybodyIn

A post shared by Bleacher Nation (@bleachernation) on

While also setting some history all his own:

Just gonna keep saying it: M. V. P.

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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.