The Cubs dropped their third straight recreation on Monday evening in Milwaukee to fall to 4–6, and even that report appears like a miracle for them. Their crew of low-velo/command varieties within the rotation haven’t carried out effectively, and the offense has been a non-factor with a depressing .164/.264/.321 line in 312 plate appearances; Chicago ranks final in baseball in all three triple-slash classes. Of the common starters, simply three are over the Mendoza line, solely three have an on-base proportion over .300, and solely three are slugging over .300. The top result’s fewer than three runs per recreation, and even in a wide-open NL Central, that’s simply not going to chop it.
There are quite a few tough begins to dissect on the North Facet. However I wish to deal with Javier Báez’s continued struggles, when it comes to each method and get in touch with capacity, and a future that grows cloudier by the sport.
Báez has by no means been one recognized for having good plate self-discipline; see his profession stroll charge of 4.7%. He’s been capable of mitigate that previously due to spectacular plate protection and a number of the finest bat pace within the recreation. However his method went from dangerous to downright untenable in 2020, as even his exceptional instruments couldn’t overcome a Ok/BB ratio of over 10-to-1, with final yr’s 75–7 mark resulting in a 57 wRC+.
Commonplace 2020 disclaimer: There have been actually pattern measurement points there, in addition to coping with the pandemic. Báez additionally talked final September about his frustration with the shortage of in-game video; as he put it, “It’s sucked. I make my changes throughout the recreation…. I’m actually mad we don’t have it.” However even with all that in thoughts, he ranked among the many backside eight in each lowest stroll and highest strikeout charge final season — one thing achieved solely 4 occasions earlier than (by three gamers) within the divisional period, and none to his excessive when it comes to charges and ratios. This isn’t only a dangerous method; it’s a traditionally terrible one.
Backside Eights Seasons in BB% and Ok%
|12 months||Participant||BB Rank||Ok Rank||AVG||OBP||SLG||wRC+||BB%||Ok%||BB/Ok|
Olivo was a catcher at all times recognized for his free-swinging methods who performed in simply 128 extra video games after the 2011 season, all after signing NRI/minor league-type offers. Snyder was the No. 4 decide within the 1984 draft primarily based on big energy and an 80 arm, however method points and accidents derailed his profession, which ended after 9 years with 149 residence runs, a depressing .291 on-base proportion, and 1.5 WAR in 1,068 video games. Samuel is probably the most attention-grabbing of the bunch. One of many extra dynamic gamers of the ability/pace hey-days of the mid-Nineteen Eighties, he averaged 35 doubles, 15 triples, 20 residence runs and 50 stolen bases throughout his first 4 years with the Phillies from 1984 to ’87, however the method points and a propensity for errors turned him right into a journeyman from there, and his completed his 16-year profession with 15.1 WAR.
Snyder and Samuel each mirror Báez as gamers who have been seen as future superstars primarily based on their instruments, solely to see it undone by swinging at too many pitches and lacking too usually once they did. However Samuel’s worst stroll and strikeout seasons have been his rookie and third-year campaigns. He made changes over the second half of his profession, and whereas the bat slowed down together with the wheels, his stroll charge within the Nineteen Nineties was 8.2% over 2,500-plus plate appearances — low, however removed from disastrous. Snyder, in the meantime, completed fourth in Rookie of the 12 months voting in 1986, hit 33 residence runs in ’87 and put up a profession excessive 2.6 WAR in ’88. The 1989 season represented a collapse that he by no means fairly recovered from, however like Samuel, he discovered to stroll extra, posting a charge of practically seven p.c with 5 groups over 4 seasons after leaving Cleveland.
Báez, alternatively, goes backwards, strolling much less and hanging out extra as his profession goes on. His three residence runs have his wRC+ above water, however he’s additionally struck out 17 occasions (tops within the Nationwide League) and drawn a single stroll in 39 plate appearances. It was the identical story this spring, as he whiffed 17 occasions in opposition to two walks in 52 plate appearances. Ten video games is among the many smallest of samples, however issues are someway getting worse…
Moreover the ridiculous quantity of chasing, Báez has stopped hitting balls within the strike zone as effectively. Early in his profession, he put up constant in-zone contact charges above 80%. That slipped underneath 75% final yr, and to date this yr, it’s simply 52%, which no participant can survive at, no matter expertise. He’s additionally abruptly getting beat by velocity. Báez used to destroy heaters due to his elite bat pace: In 2019, he had a hard-hit proportion over 60% in opposition to four-seamers, and even throughout 2020’s depressing efficiency, he nonetheless hit .253 in opposition to fastballs (and simply .162 in opposition to secondary pitches) with a hard-hit charge of practically 50%. This season, he’s seen 51 four-seamers to date and has but to register a success in opposition to one, with a staggering 71.4% whiff charge practically double that of the earlier two years. Issues are not any higher with non-strikes both: An out-of-zone contact charge that was effectively over 50% in years beforehand has slipped to 40%. Báez is getting flat-out beat each out and in of the zone, no matter his poor swing selections, which make a nasty drawback exponentially worse.
Is Báez urgent? We don’t know what’s occurring in any participant’s mind, however the method and elevated pull charges since 2019 present somebody who appears to be making an attempt to hit each pitch as onerous as he can. He’s by no means been a refined hitter, however the deep weeds he’s at present caught in may be even deeper than one thinks.
Numerous the speak of this season has been in regards to the shortstop class of the approaching low season. Even with Francisco Lindor agreeing to an extension with the Mets, there’s nonetheless Trevor Story, who has regarded good, Corey Seager, who has regarded nice, and Carlos Correa, who has regarded phenomenal after extension talks with Houston went sideways. Báez was alleged to be in that dialog, however he’ll want a dramatic turnaround when it comes to efficiency to be part of that group come November.