Javier Báez has been one of the most eclectic players since making his major league debut for the Chicago Cubs in 2014. Known throughout baseball for his colorful personality and dazzling defense, including his behind the back swipe tags, Báez has undoubtedly been a fun player to watch since getting the call.
The Cubs have gotten a significant amount of consistency out of Báez in the last two seasons. He has averaged 143 games over that span, barely missing any playing time.
As the 2018 Major League Baseball season approaches, the Cubs hope that they can continue to get solid production out of Javier Báez. Here are three goals for “El Mago” as we head into the upcoming season:
Reduce the number of strikeouts
While the 28.3 K% was not the highest of his career, Javier Báez’ strikeout rate did increase last season. It was an uptick of the previous seasons 24 percent. Báez did see an increase in plate appearances with 58 more at-bats in 2017. It could explain the hike in strikeouts.
Báez hit a career-high 23 home runs in 2017 as well, and that can also play into a higher strikeout percentage. A report from Evan Kendall of Beyond The Box Score conducted in 2014 did indicate a positive correlation between the two. Fangraphs projects Báez to lower his strikeout rate to 25.2 percent which would be great. They also anticipate more power for him as well.
The Chicago Cubs boast a top-five offense, and if Javier Báez can reduce the number of strikeouts in 2018, the team will be in an even better position.
More aggression on the base paths
Maybe the biggest goal then that Chicago Cub fans would like to see from Javier Bâez in 2018 is increased aggressiveness on the base paths. He showed off his base-running prowess in the World Baseball Classic last year as he swiped three bases in a victory for his native Puerto Rico against the United States.
Báez has double-digit steals in the last two seasons, averaging eleven steals per season. As mentioned above, the Cubs have one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball. They scored 822 runs as a team, which was fourth best in 2017. They also only stole 62 bases in 2017.
To be able to generate runs, there needs to be more aggressiveness from the team, and it can start with Javy. Fifteen stolen bases are most definitely attainable in 2018.
A much-deserved Gold Glove
Javier Báez can do it all while flashing the leather. He displayed it many times throughout the World Baseball Classic and for the Chicago Cubs during the regular season with his no-look tags and ostentatious spin moves. Báez is undoubtedly fun to watch on defense.
Báez was incredibly efficient with his defense in 2017. In 503.2 innings at second base, he made just four errors which equated to a .983 fielding percentage. Also playing considerable time at shortstop, Báez committed eleven errors in 573.1 innings, finishing with a .959 fielding percentage.
Last year fans saw the flaw in the system voting as teammate Ben Zobrist was a finalist for the award. To argue in favor of Zobrist, he was indeed impressive with his chances, as he finished with a .988 FP in 541.2 innings. It, however, was nowhere near the number of innings Báez saw in the infield, which is where the argument exists.
It would be great to see Javier Báez finally get a well-deserved Gold Glove in 2018.
The Chicago Cubs will undoubtedly be an offensive force once again in 2018. Javier Báez will also undoubtedly be a pivotal piece in that offense. Decreasing the strikeouts while increasing the steals will help to provide a middle of the order boom for the team. We are unsure what we will get from Báez in 2018, but whatever it is will undoubtedly be fun.