Baez's Uniquely Special Oppo Ability, Cubs Run Differential Champs, Montgomery, Alzolay, and Other Bullets

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Baez’s Uniquely Special Oppo Ability, Cubs Run Differential Champs, Montgomery, Alzolay, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The news and conversation is going to be painful today, isn’t it? And there’s no Cubs game to distract us …

  • We mentioned it last night, with Javy Baez going oppo for the second night in a row – he just seems at his best when he’s driving the ball with authority the other way, because he actually has the power to do damage that way – and it turns out it’s been a serious development for him since last August:

  • If you didn’t know otherwise, you’d think that looked like the homer spray chart of a very powerful switch-hitter. But nope … it’s just Javy Baez reaching his potential.
  • Speaking of which, after a little cold streak mixed in there, Baez is scorching hot again, and is up to a .324/.351/.635 line with a 152 wRC+. The strikeout rate is way up, the walk rate is down, and the BABIP is probably not sustainable at .409, but he’s also got a whopping 44.0% hard contact rate and his fly ball rate is up nearly 12 percentage points. Based on quality of contact, the Statcast expected metrics have him higher than where he “should” be, but not egregiously so.
  • One more thing on Javy Baez going the other way – when he does it, good lord he succeeds:

  • Obviously your numbers are going to be solid to any field when you’re a guy like Baez and the strikeouts are taken out, but those numbers are considerably better than his results to center field the last few years, and actually right up there with his PULL-side numbers. Which is nuts! The guy really does have serious ability hitting to all fields.
  • Sure enough: in 2018, just five hitters had better wRC+ going to the opposite field than Baez, and none had as many as his 116 plate appearances that ended going oppo. Javy. Is. Special.
(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
  • As Jordan Bastian is CLEARLY trying to say, the Cubs are the best team in the NL Central, and the Brewers are the worst:

  • Cubs pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay (side issue after last year’s lat injury) is finally throwing in extended Spring Training action, dominating the youngsters out in Arizona (TCR). He was always going to have the Cubs watching his innings closely this year, but now with his delayed start, you wonder all the more if they’ll let him start for a while at AAA, and then look for the first opportunity to bring him up to contribute out of the big league bullpen if an opportunity arises. Otherwise, he’ll be at AAA awaiting a needed spot start after he’s totally ready to go (and presuming he looks good, and the schedule doesn’t otherwise dictate going with someone like Tyler Chatwood or Mike Montgomery).
  • Speaking of Mike Montgomery, he made his first rehab appearance yesterday with the South Bend Cubs and was just fine:

  • Every former Ranger a Cub, every former Cub a Ranger:

  • Oh my. Look at what the Smokies did last night:

  • I have not heard any horrifying stories, so it must have gone all right. Probably didn’t hurt that the opponent scored a run in the top of the second. Also, that was the only run scored off of starter Cory Abbott, who continues to cruise:

  • It’s a couple days later, and I’m still loving this GIF:

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.