by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The numbers Javier Baez put up in 2016 are certainly promising, and give us hope that he’s turned the corner:
421 At Bats
.273 Batting Average (115 Hits)
14 Home Runs
12 Stolen Bases
.314 On Base Percentage
.423 Slugging Percentage
.336 Batting Average on Balls in Play
There has never been a question about his power potential and seeing him chip in with some stolen bases is promising. At the same time, his .273 batting average is highly deceiving. He continued displaying poor plate discipline and also saw his numbers buoyed by some good luck.
In regards to his luck, while his BABIP seems reasonable it came courtesy of an ordinary 19.5% line drive rate. His 10.9% IFFB doesn’t help either, making it fair to wonder if he can maintain the mark.
Then we have the plate discipline, which was horrendous:
Had he qualified for the batting title the O-Swing% would’ve been the fifth highest in the league. It’s not just one pitch type that he has issues with either, as he posted a Whif% of 23.34% against breaking pitches and 22.03% against offspeed pitches.
You have to think that opposing pitchers will simply stop throwing him “hard” pitches, given those numbers and his .299 average against fourseam fastballs and .338 average against sinkers. Why give him a fastball when you can take advantage of his over-aggressive approach (3.3% walk rate)? It doesn’t make sense, and in time you know opposing teams are going to force him to adjust.
It’s actually surprising that they didn’t do so in 2016 (he hit .273 in both the first and second half), but you know it will come. There also is going to be questions about where he fits in the lineup, though maybe he simply acts like a super utility player. Maybe that yields enough AB, but maybe not? It’ll be hard to predict.
Sure there’s potential, given his power and speed displayed, but if you can’t make consistent contact it simply doesn’t matter. While he showed a little bit of potential last season, it’s a bit deceiving. Don’t make the mistake of buying into him based on the surface, because the risk certainly remains and likely outweighs the reward.
Source – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball