Cubs' Baez looks to put 2020 in rearview mirror
In the category of players due for a comeback season, we present for your consideration Javy Baez.
Indeed, the two-time All-Star shortstop and sparkplug atop the Chicago Cubs’ lineup is coming off the worst season of his career, one in which some metrics and analytics identified him as the worst offensive player in baseball. His numbers – a .203 average, eight home runs, a .238 on-base percentage and an OPS of .599 – don’t lie: 2020 was a pretty miserable year.
But that was in a pandemic-shortened 60-game schedule that wrought havoc with more than a few players. For Baez, though, there may have been another contributing factor.
Prior to 2020, Baez relied heavily on in-game review of video to make adjustments to his swing on the fly. But that was banned by MLB last year in the aftermath of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. For his part, Baez points to both factors as hurting his performance.
To his credit, Baez didn’t take his struggles into the field, winning his first Gold Glove in 2020. And with a 162-game slate in 2021, along with the return of in-game video review and free agency on the horizon, the stage is set for a return to form for the uber-talented man nicknamed “El Mago” (Spanish for “The Magician”), who at 28 should be enjoying the prime of his career.
Baez and the Cubs can be seen in action Monday, April 12, opening a three-game road series against the Milwaukee Brewers in a clash of National League Central rivals airing on Fox Sports 1.
Full name: Ednel Javier Baez
Birth date: Dec. 1, 1992
Birthplace: Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Height/weight: 6 feet/190 pounds
Teams: Chicago Cubs (2014-present)
Honors and achievements: Two-time All-Star (2018, 2019); World Series champion (2016); NLCS MVP (2016); Gold Glove Award (2020); Silver Slugger Award (2018); NL RBI leader (2018); All-World Baseball Classic Team (2017)