Anarchists' Brunch: The Javy Circle

No player has had more words typed about him this season that Javy Baez, at least on the Cubs. he's been a beacon of light at times when the season has dragged, and of course there's never a lack of action around him to describe. There are some who would tell you there's also controversy following him at times, but those are just crusty old people who are physically incapable of fun. Baez has been the Cubs MVP, and he just might be the most entertaining player in the game.

What's funny is how sure most of us were that he would never be here.

It's a long time ago now, but when Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer came aboard, it was only a matter of minutes before everyone started speculating on Baez's future. He was Jim Hendry's last first-round draft pick, and while Theo and Jed were always to thoughtful and analytical to just discard a player simply because he was picked by the last guy, the questions were valid. Javy was clearly not in the mold of what we were told the new regime wanted. He didn't take pitches, he was impulsive, his future position was unclear (and yes, when Javy was in the minors there were tons of doubts he could actually play short every day. Not that he does now, but you get the idea).

As he rose through the system those questions didn't go away, because Javy still had the same problems. That first foray into the majors didn't dispel anything either, and there were some who thought it was merely putting him in the shop window. His 40% K-rate assured he fell through said shop window.

What was so hard to see, and what make Javy such a great story, is that what he has to do to be a productive player, and now a star, is so hard. He has to hit around .300 and he has to hit for a lot of power for a middle infielder to make it work. Remember, until this season Javy really only had been an average offensive player overall, despite the explosions and fireworks. It's something of a high-wire act, which we now know he specializes in.

So for a GM and evaluators to look at a player in the minors, see what his skills are and are going to be, and think yeah, he can do something that's pretty unique in the game, either takes a ton of foresight or a ton of balls, or both. How do you project a player to never walk but hit .300 and slug over .500 simply because he hits the ball so hard? How do you see what is an erratic and error-prone fielder in the minors is going to become a defensive weapon at three positions (and more if needed)?

I think one of the things that excites me most about Javy is that he's going to be a verb for some from now on. Whenever a team has a player that has similar skills, and fans and media alike ask how is this player going to become a productive major leaguer, some will say, "He'll have to Baez it." It'll mean that he'll have to hit for a ton of power and average if he's not going to have the on-base skills of others, while pitching in the side parts of the game like defense and base-running. He'll have to do everything, basically. He'll have to Baez it.

I don't know if this will be the norm for Javy. The nature of his game and his stats and what makes him an All-Star today are so fragile there will be months and probably seasons where he falls off that wire. Maybe they will be more than the ones where he doesn't. I can't say. It's a lot to ask someone to do it this way. But then again, there are so few players as talented as Javy that he might just be able to do it consistently for the next 10 years. You don't want to put that on him, but then there were plenty who thought he could never do this, and certainly never do it here.

We're all very lucky that he did.

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  • For the record, this crusty old guy incapable of fun, enjoys watching Javy play the game.

  • From one crusty old guy to another: I'm with you.

  • The Cubs have the fewest losses in the NL

    Javy Baez leads the Cubs Regulars in EVERY offensive category except OBP. and BA. His .293 BA trails only Albert Almora (Theo's first first round pick, BTW). Javy leads the ream in Runs, Hits, 2Bs, 3Bs, HRs, RBIs, SBs, and SLG. He probably also leads in all of the highly analytical stats (WAR, fWAR, FIP, ....) which I do not pretend to understand.

    As Barley Pop is fond of saying "Do you remember the last Cubs Win when Javy was NOT in the middle of it?" "Yeah, me neither"

    Sounds like the NL MVP to me!

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    In reply to DropThePuck:

    I think the comment wasn't from BP but from CubsWin09.

  • Great piece on one of the most exciting players in the game. We are lucky!

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    You nailed it about Javy. There just isn’t anyone like him playing today. I’m just happy that the FO didn’t listen to all those “trade Javy” catcalls a few years ago.

  • Javy Baez has lead the Cubs Regulars in EVERY offensive category for most of the year other than OBP and Almora's BA and Rizzo's brief RBI lead. That's how consistent he has been but as I stated yesterday Fangraphs has his WAR at 3.3. LOL.

  • For me the best thing about Javy is the Cubs Den meme (was it BP who started this, I actually think it was one of the writers) that so accurately sums him up in one sentence "Cubs wins inevitably involve a positive contribution from Javy in some way". So true in the vast majority of Cubs wins this year. And it is not always his bat. For people who actually watch the games, that goes as a big "Duhh!"

    People bring up the excitement factor. The unique talents. The dangerous baserunner. The "chrome factor", if you will. But it's really about the wins in the end. There is really a gold-plated quality to the chrome that Javy brings. It's not just chrome, or excitement, that makes him special. He really affects the outcome of games he plays in, more than any position player I've seen this year.

    One other thing. His continuous growth as a player every year he has been with the Cubs cannot be ignored. Do people here really think that he will never walk? He certainly will, if it is necessary. That means that if (when?) pitchers decide they will not throw him strikes, he will most certainly, most definitely, without any doubt in my mind, adjust to that. Just like he has almost continuously adjusted to major league pitching since 2014.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I agree 100%. He should easily be in the TOP 5 of MLB in War. Actually, I do not think there is anyone in MLB that can match his total contributions to the his team including Trout.

  • Javy' s courageous base running wins games, his inventive slides win games, his lightning quick tags win games, his glove magic wins games in three positions, his arm does also at three defensive positions, his base stealing including home plate wins games, and his bat wins games. He's always the best player on the diamond.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I do not care what Sabermetrics shows, I have eyes ans as a retiree I watch most all Cub games.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    You realize the Sabermetrics actually DO give Javy credit for all the things you listed?

    To use a quick comp for a guy Javy trails in WAR, look up Lindor’s season thus far and you will see why Baez trails him in WAR. Javy finally is showing a positive DWar after being negative all year. Why? Because he had a boatload if errors early in the year. He has played fantastic D for 2 months and now the metrics are catching up.

    If he duplicates his first half, he will come in near a 7 WAR season. What does this mean? Javy will be a Top 3 MVP player and could win the thing. The metrics are showing exactly what you see and that is a truly great player.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Cool! Good to know.

  • My Man, Javy!

    The thing is, this isn’t new this year for me when it comes to Javy. For me it started in about 2014 with John talking about Javy’s bat speed. He solidified a place in my heart with that NLDS GM4 3 run homer to BEAT THE CARDINALS the first time these two great rivals ever met in the post season. That was so special to me. And it marked the changing of the guard culminating with Methany’s firing two days ago.

    Then of course there’s the game winning homer off Cueto and on and on it goes. Like the Javy tag. Unheard of in the history of the game. Never been a player whose made a name for himself for how he tags. Tags!? That’s ridiculous.

    I’m 57 years old but I’m like a 12 year old when it comes to Javy. I love Javy. He’s my hero. He’s so joyful and sensational. And UNIQUE. That’s the thing. There has never been a player like him. He is my favorite Cub player of all time. True dat!

  • In reply to TTP:

    TTP, you've got me by a few years, I'm only 54. But I agree with everything you said. I've told many people he is the most exciting player I have ever watched. And my favorite player of all time. I just hope and pray I can survive long enough to watch his whole career. It's gonna be special.

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