Javier Baez may be a man without a position for the Cubs, but he has proven to be a key cog in Chicago’s success. Can the super utility stud be a fantasy star in 2017?
The Chicago Cubs could not have asked for a better regular season, finishing with a 103-58 record. Even though studs like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo rightfully receive the spotlight, the sheer depth that the Cubs have at nearly every position is the key to their dominance. One of their best depth pieces is super utility man, Javier Baez.
Javier Baez may be the most dynamic youngster in the bigs, as he has every tool possible at his disposal. That is why he was rated as one of the best prospects in MLB not too many years ago, and why the Cubs continue to find him at-bats even though they are set across the diamond.
Baez has a great future, he is still only 22-years-old, but fantasy owners are befuddled when it comes to his fantasy value. Baez has 450 at-bats this season and has posted a, .273/14 HR/59 RBI/12 SB/.737 OPS line. That type of line is tremendous for a utility man, but it also just serves as a taste of what Baez can offer over a full season.
Armed with possibly the quickest bat speed in baseball, he oozes XBH potential. With that bat speed, he has a knack for barreling balls up with ease, posting a solid 20% LD, and 29% Hard contact rates this season. The offensive skill set is there, and that does not even take into account the 20 SB ability he showed in the minors.
The only thing that fantasy owners will have to keep watch of, are the strikeouts. In 142 games this season, Baez struck out 108 times while only drawing 15 walks. That ratio is clearly unsustainable and would kill his AVG numbers over a full plethora of at-bats. His .273 AVG is by no means pure luck though, his BABIP was a pedestrian .313, so it will be interesting to see if the two extremes can exist.
Fantasy owners know that no matter how good a player may be, it does not matter if he can not see the field. The Cubs are set all across the infield, where Baez has mostly played in his career, and in the OF they have plenty of options. Chicago will more than likely move some pieces in the offseason, namely Jorge Soler, opening some of the logjam.
Kyle Schwarber will make his return next season though, so it will be intriguing to see how the Cubs shuffle things around. While playing time is a worry, the Cubs are not going to holster a talent like Baez. If he were to be moved in the offseason, he would immediately jump into the elite tiers at SS, 2B, or 3B.
In terms of his fantasy value next season, Baez should qualify at both MI spots and at third across all fantasy formats. He will most likely be drafted as a SS, providing great mid-round value for those owners who rather wait at the position. The Cubs lineup will help boost his counting stats as well, making him a high ceiling/solid floor selection in 2017.