El Mago: One Group of Experts Peg Javy Baez as the Second Best Shortstop in Baseball

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El Mago: One Group of Experts Peg Javy Baez as the Second Best Shortstop in Baseball

Chicago Cubs

This is often called the golden age for shortstops, and I couldn’t offer a more appropriate label. In fact, it seems to me that MLB’s youth movement really blossomed when the game’s best shortstop prospects were all called up around the same time.

Consider that in 2012, we saw the debuts of Manny Machado (26 years old now), Jean Segura (28), and Andrelton Simmons (29). In 2013, we got Xander Bogaerts (26). In 2014, we got Javy Baez (26). And in 2015, we got Trevor Story (26), Trea Turner (25), Francisco Lindor (25), Carlos Correa (24), and Corey Seager (24). Maybe there’s a little more star-power in some of those names than others, but that’s one HEALTHY crop of sub-30-year-old star shortstops, right?

MLB Network Radio recently polled their experts to rank the best shortstops of the 2019 season and those ten names form the top-10. And while they’re all worthy of recognition, MLBNR’s #2 overall ranking really caught my eye …

MLB Network Radio Top-10 Shortstops of 2019

  1. Francisco Lindor, Indians
  2. Javy Baez, Cubs
  3. Manny Machado, SS
  4. Carlos Correa, Astros
  5. Trevor Story, Rockies
  6. Trea Turner, Nationals
  7. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
  8. Corey Seager, Dodgers
  9. Andrelton Simmons, Angels
  10. Jean Segura, Mariners

Hello, Javy.

Lindor is almost certainly the best all-around player of the group, but beyond him you have Manny freakin’ Machado, who’s lined up for a $250M+ payday, Carlos Correa with two 5.0+ WAR seasons under his belt before the age of 24, Trevor Story, the power hitter, Trea Turner, the burner, Andrelton Simmons, the glove man, and STILL you have to account for all-around talents like Xander Bogaerts and Corey Seager.

And yet somehow, the Cubs’ own Javy Baez beat almost ALL of them in these rankings.

I knew I had him on the mind for a reason yesterday:

As much as I love Javy (and think he’s due for another great season) … well, let’s just say that is the highest I’ve ever seen anybody on him. Indeed, if I had to put money down, I’d think that by the end of the year, you’d likely take Lindor, Machado, Correa, and Seager over Baez, but hey, that’s still quite the compliment to Baez!. In that case, he’d still be a top-5 shortstop in MLB and second-best in the NL, behind only guys expected to compete for MVP honors in 2019.

And it’s not as though he doesn’t have the tools to match anybody above. Baez might not have the super-elite glove of Simmons, the top speed of Turner, or the huge power of Story, but he’s arguably a top 3-4 guy in each category. And as his .290 average and two and a half percentage point drop in his strikeout rate showed last season, his hit tool might be coming around as well. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, Baez might not be your best bet to wind up as the second best shortstop in baseball next season, but he’s not exactly a long-shot, either. I can’t wait to see what he could do with a full year at the position with less moving around the diamond to distract him.

Whether he’ll get that chance after Addison Russell returns from his domestic violence suspension in early May, that remains to be seen. If Baez is playing like the second best shortstop in the game at that point, though, it might be hard to ask him to move.

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami