Although he’s moved around defensively for most of his career, Javy Baez has always been a shortstop at his core. He came up through the system at shortstop, he’s got the range and athleticism for the spot, and that arm. That is the arm of a shortstop.
So it was nice to see him get an opportunity in 2019 to really settle into the position and be THE Chicago Cubs’ starting shortstop.
Despite debates that raged in years prior, Baez showed that, yes, given a full year, he’d be just as studly at shortstop as he was at second or third base. Although he was, insanely, not a finalist for the Gold Glove, he passed the eye test, and ranked in the top three in just about every defensive metric.
Now, to add another feather to his defensive cap: with the rollout of significant changes to the Defense Runs Saved formula, with particular care added to how a player’s defensive rates when shifted, Baez’s marks get a huge lift.
Using Javier Báez to illustrate how player values will change with the new version of Defensive Runs Saved.
Baez improved because the stat now accounts for how he fared when the Cubs shifted.
— Sports Info Solutions (@SportsInfo_SIS) November 7, 2019
Note that Baez missed most of the final month of the season, too, making a counting stat like DRS all the more impressively high.
Looking ahead to a transformative offseason, while the Cubs may not ideally want to center their offense on a bat styled like Baez’s – power and speed, yes, but tons of swing-and-miss and no walks – but the reality is that he is one of the most valuable overall shortstops in the game. The Cubs would be nuts to try to move Baez and replace his productivity and his defense in the near-term.
Yes, yes, there are no untouchable players. And if some utterly perverse offer comes along, well, then, deal with it. But assuming that doesn’t happen, I couldn’t be more happy that the Cubs have Javy Baez as their shortstop for at least the next two years, and here’s hoping the sides find a way to make that relationship last a little longer.