The way David Ross talked about it – and the way Theo Epstein talked about the offense this week generally – certainly made it seem like no significant lineup changes would be happening through the end of the year. A lot of us have advocated for Kris Bryant and Javy Báez to move down the order for a while now, as it seems crazy to keep giving the most plate appearances to guys who are struggling so deeply in ways that go far beyond flukey bad results.
But there HAS been some movement today, though it’s not much: although Bryant stays in the two-hole, Báez is dropping a spot to number five.
Maybe the thinking is that this is a marginal improvement for the lineup, but not something that could batter Báez’s mindset any further? To me, I’d much rather Báez was simply moved all the way down to number nine – not only because his performance justifies it, but also because maybe because it takes even more pressure off. But, after a day off yesterday, maybe a smaller move will help in some way we can’t see from the outside. I know that a manager has to balance those things delicately.
At the moment, Báez is hitting just .196/.235/.357 this year with a 53 wRC+. Only Royals infielder Adalberto Mondesi has a lower wRC+ in all of baseball. Unfortunately, the peripherals under the hood suggest Báez has mostly earned those numbers, too. It’s been a disaster.
With just two weeks left in the season, the reality is that any movement in the lineup is unlikely to make a huge difference. So I’ll take what I can get. I love Javy Báez, and I know he can still explode at the plate. But he’s not right, and the better bet is that he doesn’t just flip a switch here in September. So, sadly, the fewer key plate appearances he receives right now, the better. Keep doing the great defense thing, and then reset in the offseason.