At his best, Javy Baez is one of the premier shortstops in baseball. So far this season, he’s at a career worst. The pressure is on the Tigers star to turn things around.
Baez was Detroit’s biggest free-agent acquisition in a season in which they were a fringe preseason playoff pick. That, quite clearly, has not come to fruition.
The Tigers’ entire starting rotation has been injured at some point. Casey Mize is getting Tommy John surgery, and Eduardo Rodriguez is nowhere to be found. The lineup, meanwhile, is far and away the worst in MLB, and Baez has not helped in the slightest.
Note: I went to watch the Tigers play in Pittsburgh just a week ago. Baez swung at the same pitch — a put-out slider down and away — on three separate occasions. Unfortunately, that was not an off game for the $140 million man. It’s the new normal.
Tigers: Stats don’t lie about Javy Baez
The main issue with Baez is that when he struggles, he struggles hard. Unlike say, teammate Miguel Cabrera, Baez fails to get on base when he is making soft contact and/or not seeing the ball well. This brings us to Baez’s first brutal statistic:
- Javy Baez is *clears throat* 156th out of 157 qualifying players in OBP and 153rd out of 157 qualifying players in slugging. This makes him dead last in MLB in OPS by a wide margin.
Advanced stats or not, sometimes simplicity tells the best story. Baez is not known for his OBP, that’s for sure. But his batting average does tell a similar story. Just as Javy is dead last in OPS, he joins a number of Tigers teammates on the batting average league-lows.
- Baez has the fifth-worst batting average in baseball. Were it not for two of his own teammates — Jeimer Candelario and Spencer Torkelson — he would be third-worst. Don’t challenge this man, he could hit new lows in the next week or so.
For those unfamiliar, wRC+, also known as weighted runs created, puts a weighted value on each outcome for a hitter as it relates to run creation. This is the ultimate tool to judge hitter performance.
- Baez ranks dead last in wRC+, at just 47. The league leader is St. Louis Cardinals first baseman and NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt, who has 200. Javy has a long way to go.
I don’t mean to kick a man while he’s down. Baez will surely get better and regress to his norm, but for now he’s a detriment to Detroit’s lineup. He’s not alone — as the Tigers feature several players hitting under the Mendoza line — but hitting their shortstop fifth at this juncture feels like a miscue on A.J. Hinch’s part, to say the least.