MLB awards watch: National League MVP race

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CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 24: Javier Baez #9 of the Chicago Cubs hits a home run in the sixth inning during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

5. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

.312 BA, 8 HR (T-6th), 21 RBI (T-3rd), 1.003 OPS (12th) and 1.3 WAR (5th).

Last season, Javier Baez had an MVP-caliber season for the Chicago Cubs. He had career-highs in home runs (34), RBI (111), batting average (.290) on-base percentage (.326), slugging percentage (.554) and OPS (.881).

Baez put it all together in his fifth season (and third full season), at age 25 in 2018. If it wasn’t for Christian Yelich, Baez would have won the MVP award, as he came in second place in voting.

So far in 2019, Baez has been able to replicate what he did last season. In fact, the slick-fielding, violent-swinging infielder has hit for more power this season. However, he is still a stubborn batter to walk.

Baez has never been one to cut down his swing and take too many walks. Instead, he swings and misses a lot, resulting in a bunch of strikeouts. This year, his OBP is .347 and he has a strikeout percentage of 27.6.

Being more selective at the plate would take Baez to another level. He has proven to be a legitimate power, dynamic bat and one of the best fielders in baseball. At shortstop, he has five defensive-runs saves in 2019, which ties his career-best at any position.

If Baez can practice more patience and take more walks, he will challenge everyone on this list for the MVP award.

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