Javier Baez Has Been on a Downward Spiral Since His All-Star Appearance As a Member of the Cubs
While recently signed free agent outfielder Kyle Schwarber was hitting yet another home run, his eighteenth to tie for the National League lead, his former teammate was getting booed by the fans of his new team. After a sluggish start Schwarber had finally won over the folks in Philadelphia, displaying the remarkable power that had made him a key part of the Cubs team that won the World Series in 2016.
Few fans are surprised at Schwarber's success in the City of Brotherly Love, nor are they surprised at the performances of the other former Cubs who signed free agent contracts last winter. First baseman Anthony Rizzo is a big reason the New York Yankees own the best record in all of baseball this season,
Just as everyone was expecting great production from Rizzo and Schwarber, most were equally certain of the opposite for a former 2016 North Side teammate. In spite of the huge contract tendered to him, shortstop Javier Baez has predictably been a bust.
No one who has followed baseball since Baez's 2014 debut can be at all surprised that his deal with the Tigers has not worked out, even though it has been only three months so far. Baez had always been a feast or famine type of hitter, and since that 2016 season it has been famine much more often than feast.
He currently has a .188 batting average, and his .232 on base percentage is the second-worst in all of baseball. Those numbers are terrible for any player, but especially so for one who is making $20 million this year and even more in the ensuing five years on his contract
Reporter Cody Stavenhagen, who covers the Tigers for The Atlantic, discussed the trouble in Motown and its newest acquisition in a June 16 2022 article.
The headline, “Javier Baez and the Tigers reach a critical point in their atrocious struggles,” pretty much summarizes the story of Detroit's 2022 season. Stavenhagen, for some reason, sounds surprised that the marriage has not worked out so far.
His focus has of course been on the Tigers, but fans who have followed Baez's career probably foresaw the folly of signing him to a long-term contract. Not only has his offense slipped drastically over the years, but he has also way too many off-field issues.
Baez made headlines last season with the Mets, when his poor performance brought a stadium full of boos on him. Instead of working to improve his play, or just ignoring the crowd as a professional should, Baez chose to taunt them with a thumbs-down.
As his anemic production has continued in Detroit, Baez has at least managed to keep his thumbs hidden amid the boos. His attitude has not improved at all, and that is much more discouraging than his paltry on base percentage or his .188 BA.
“I'm just gonna go out there and be myself and play hard,” Baez said. “It's about coming out the next day and being better.”
The quote is offered by Baez as a defense, but it actually underscores the problem. He is content with being himself, indicating that he sees no problem with his current lack of production.
Since nearly every knowledgeable fan has observed the selfishness of Baez and its counterproductive results, surely Detroit's front office should have made note of it before tendering such a lucrative contract. They had in fact signed a player who is as near a perfect match as Baez, in terms of production.
According to Baseball-Reference the most similar player to Baez by stats and age is journeyman Jonathan Schoop. who is currently his teammate in Detroit. The similar production is, unfortunately for Detroit, true this year with Schoop batting .191 with just five home runs.
The only difference, of course, is that Schoop's salary is one-third of that of Baez, and Schoop is under contract for just one more year.