Batter’s Box: Wave Good-Baez

Javier Baez’s season numbers may not look all that impressive, but he’s had a nice month and continued that on Monday going 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Now that Addison...

Javier Baez’s season numbers may not look all that impressive, but he’s had a nice month and continued that on Monday going 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Now that Addison Russell is on the DL, Baez is guaranteed some consistent playing time (though he was pretty much getting that before, but it’s pretty certain now), and he’s taken advantage of that, but how real is it? It’s been a fairly stark difference; from the start of the season through July 7th, Baez was slashing .261/.299/.458, but from then on, he’s slashed .294/.351/.618. So what changed for Baez and is it sustainable? Well, to answer the second question first, no, I don’t think it is. I think that first slash line is more what Baez is, a guy who has good power, a mediocre average, and a godawful OBP. But there was a slight change along with some very good luck. Over the past month, Baez has sported a .400 BABIP, which will definitely cause that average to drop pretty sharply in the coming future. The rise in OBP is interesting, and that’s happened partially because his walk rate jumped up from 5% to 8.1%, but that hasn’t really meant he’s been more disciplined, as his strikeout rate jumped up as well, from 25.6% to 36.5%. His chase rate and swing rate have remained about the same, and his whiff rate rose slightly, all of which leads me to believe he’s not all of a sudden learning plate discipline, so I don’t expect that OBP to be that good going forward. Baez is a fine hitter, but he’s not this good. He’ll probably hit in the .260s the rest of the way, and I expect the power to slow down a bit too, as I don’t anticipate him maintaining a nearly-20% HR/FB rate. I think he’ll have an above-average one, but not that high, so I’d expect him to end the year with around 22-25 home runs. Enjoy the streak while it lasts, but anticipate that it will end.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday:

Jose Pirela (2B/OF, SD) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Normally I wouldn’t really talk much about Jose Pirela because he’s nothing particularly special and his playing time is very inconsistent, but this was quite a game for him. If you’re in one of the 8% of ESPN leagues that owns him, good for you.

Zack Cozart (SS, CIN) – 2-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Cozart’s back from the DL and likely back into your lineups in what has easily been the best season of his career. Honestly the only thing I don’t think is legit about his game this year has been the batting average, and he’s still got a .350 BABIP that I believe will come down, however I still think he can hit in the low-.270s the rest of the way. I do have to give him major credit for one thing though: his walk rate has shot up this year from 7.3% last year to 12.7% this year, and it’s come along with a decreased chase rate, swing rate, and whiff rate. He’s being more selective with his pitches, and it’s lead to success.

Keon Broxton (OF, MIL) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Broxton is back from the minors and who knows what to expect out of him. He goes through peaks and valleys where he crushes the ball and then hits sub-.200 with no home runs. He’s got the speed/power combo to be deadly, but it’s been rough owning him. I will say though, since coming back up to the majors a week ago, he’s hitting .273, so perhaps this could be the start of another Keon Broxton hot streak, and he’s available in around 83% of ESPN leagues.

Kolten Wong (2B, STL) – 1-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. After a pretty mediocre year last year, Kolten Wong has been pretty decent this year. His slash line looks nice, at .296/.383/.425, but there’s just been no counting stats, with just two home runs and three stolen bases. That .296 average has come with a .346 BABIP, so expect that to decline, and without the power or speed he used to have, he’s just not all that useful unfortunately.

Matt Carpenter (2B/1B/3B, STL) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Count me as someone who thought Carpenter was going to have a career year this year, but honestly it looks like he’ll just have essentially a repeat of last year, which is fine. His OBP has been fantastic thanks to his awesome 16.6% walk rate, and while the power has been down a bit (just one home run in the past month), I still think he’ll end the year with numbers comparable to last year’s. He’s not a bust necessarily if you reached for him in drafts (like I did), but he hasn’t been as good as I hoped he’d be.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

7 responses to “Batter’s Box: Wave Good-Baez”

  1. Cubblue1 says:

    Looking at ROS, would you consider dropping Xander B. for Cozart or Simmons? Or do you think Xander will bounce back?

    • Ben Palmer says:

      Have to post this in two comments unfortunately. So I think the real Xander is somewhere in between what we saw leading up to the All-Star Break and what we’ve seen over the past month.

      Through July 5th, Xander was hitting .308 but it came with a .367 BABIP that was due to regress. Since then, he’s been batting .179 with a .221 BABIP, which is due for some positive regression.

      The other interesting thing is, over the past month, his batted ball stats have changed in a dramatic, and ultimately unsustainable way. He’s not hitting more ground balls or anything, rather he’s hitting more fly balls, and not even infield fly balls, but fly balls that are dying in the outfield.

      • Ben Palmer says:

        His hard hit rate dropped ten points over the past month, and his soft hit rate dropped some too, but his medium hit rate shot up from 44.8% to 60.3%. There’s no way all that’s going to continue, given the fact that his plate discipline stats haven’t changed much and how weird his other stats are. He’ll get better.

        So to answer your question, no, I wouldn’t drop him for either.

  2. The Kraken says:

    Baez had an atrocious little run of a few games where he K’ed nearly every at bat – there was a 5K game for sure – if you throw that out, the K rate is probably not trending in any direction. He was K’ing like a fiend for a few days, but he has shaken it off for now.

    • Ben Palmer says:

      True, however Baez has had a nasty strikeout problem from the beginning, and it doesn’t look like that’s getting fixed, which is bad news for him going forward.

      • The Kraken says:

        For sure. If he didn’t then he would be a superstar! Just saying that they are not trending in the wrong direction. A Platinum sombrero pulls a lot of weight in a monthly split – I watched that game. I could tell by half-way through his first at bat that he would K every time that game. He can do that on any day, but it is not occurring any more frequently than over the last three years. A lot gets lost in averages, especially over a short period of time. Multi strikeout games would be a better ratio, but I don’t think that exists. I think that would be in-line with his career.

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