The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Cubs Capitalizing on the Maturation of Javier Baez

The Red Sox have Mookie Betts.  The Indians have Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.  The Angels have Mike Trout.  The Cubs have Javier Baez.

For Baez to be mentioned in this elite group of players is a big step for him.  But what they all have in common is they are “complete” players, guys who can do it all really well-- hit, field, and run.  Baez is making his statement this year that he belongs.  He’s progressed from top prospect status as an 18-year-old to MVP candidate at 25.

Baez was 18 years old when he signed out of high school as the ninth overall pick in the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft by Chicago.  He showed his potential two years later when he hit 37 HR and 111 RBIs in the minors.

He was tagged to be part of the solution to the roster overhaul the Cubs undertook in 2012 under new president Theo Epstein.  The Cubs gave him his first opportunity with the big-league club in 2014, but he struggled in his 52 games when he batted only .169.

Another year of seasoning at the Triple-A level was warranted, and Baez responded well with a .324 batting average, 13 HR and 61 RBI in 70 games in 2015.

Then he became an integral part of the Cubs’ rise to prominence in 2016 with their first World Series championship since 1908.  In his first full season with the Cubs, he demonstrated invaluable versatility for Cubs manager Joe Maddon by being able to play second base, shortstop and third base.  He recorded 14 HR and 59 RBIs while batting .273 during the regular season.  He was the MVP of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He had another good season in 2017, but faltered during the post-season as the Cubs lost the National League pennant to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

2018 has been the breakout season for Baez.  He made his first all-star team and currently has 30 HR and 100 RBIs, which leads the league.  He became the first 20-20 player (at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases) for the Cubs since Corey Patterson in 2004.  Baez has drawn comparisons to former Cub second baseman, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, with his ability to hit, field, and run the bases.

With Cubs slugger Kris Bryant out of action a good part of the season due to injury, Baez has more than picked up the slack offensively.  He leads the team in home runs, RBIs, and slugging percentage.  He’s in the highlight videos practically every day with his aggressive base-running and dazzling plays in the field.

The Cubs are fortunate to have nurtured Baez as a young player.  He’s been instrumental in helping the Cubs get into position to win their third straight Central Division title and in the process has worked himself into the National League MVP conversation.

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