Javier Baez is trying to make adjustments in-game.
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Baez is 0-for-19 in the postseason with eight strikeouts in seven games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only Jimmy Sheckard had a longer hitless streak to open a postseason for the Cubs, going 0-for-21 in 1906. Last fall, Baez tied a Cubs record by opening the playoffs with a six-game hitting streak.
Saturday’s schedule includes Cubs Jeopardy, a baseball operations update and a business operations update that was expected to provide fans with the latest on the Wrigley Field renovations. Manager Joe Maddon will introduce his coaching staff, including several new members such as hitting coach Chili Davis and pitching coach Jim Hickey, during a seminar.
Adding ace Jon Lester and veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler will help the Cubs in the short term, but the buzz building around the franchise is largely based on Chicago amassing, in scientific terms, a butt load of young position players. We saw Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, and Jorge Soler for the first time last year, and here’s a partial list of the nonroster invitees who will get a crack at major league camp: Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, and Kyle Schwarber. Also new to mlb jerseys cheap the team and sporting a number in the 70s: Joe Maddon, in case all the commotion made you forget that Chicago also added the game’s best manager this offseason. The Cubs are either another year or another big trade away from making a run at the playoffs, but right now, this team is where the Nationals were four years ago.
Polanco’s slump seemed to mirror those of several other high-profile players who had torn up Triple-A but struggled to sustain that success in the majors. Cubs prospect Javier Baez struck out in 41.5 percent of his MLB plate appearances and batted .169. Astros prospect Jon Singleton whiffed at a 37 percent rate and batted .168.
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This spring, Baez, 25, started his video highlight reel early, making a pair of impressive plays in the Cubs’ home opener Saturday against the Rangers. When Russell was injured last season, he had a front-row seat to watch Baez put on a show at shortstop.
Prior to calling up Baez last week and Arismendy Alcantara last month, the Cubs had arguably the best farm system in baseball, and according to MLB.com, their top six prospects, and 12 of their top 15, were hitters. It’s been a long time since any team had so many hitting prospects in its organization at once.
They called up top prospect Joey Gallo to fill in for Beltre despite Gallo’s 34 percent strikeout rate in Double-A, and he has already displayed his power, but he’s also struck out in more than half of his plate appearances that haven’t ended in homers, which might portend a Javier Baez–like line if he remains in the majors. Chi Chi Gonzalez, who entered the year as the Rangers’ second-ranked prospect, has made a splash by beginning his career with two scoreless starts, including a shutout in Kansas City on Friday. But he’s also walked seven and struck out four, which doesn’t bode well for further scoreless outings. Similarly, Nick Martinez, who’s been the best Texas starter by ERA, has the peripherals of a pitcher with many more runs allowed.
Three innings later, Baez cranked another home run into the Wrigley Field bleachers, blowing a bubble as he took a skip toward first base. Baez’s elation was unmistakable; in hitting two homers to lead the Cubs to a 3-2 win over the Dodgers, postponing elimination, he burst out of an 0-for-20 postseason funk in about the most explosive way possible.
It was around the start of the NLCS that Baez began feeling better about his approach at the plate. The results still weren’t there — he went 0-for-5 in Games 1 and 2 before sitting on the bench for most of Game 3. But by that point, Baez felt unlucky more than anything, ready to uncoil.