After homering seven times in his first 19 games Cubs rookie Javier Baez has gone deep just twice in his last 24 games while hitting .146 with 44 strikeouts.
Baez is hitting .178 with 78 strikeouts in 43 games overall, which is worrisome even for a free-swinging 21-year-old slugger who also struck out a ton in the minors.
So are the Cubs worried? Not really, at least according to what president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
As tough as it can be to watch sometimes, this is exactly what Javy needs. He’s going to end up going into the offseason reflecting back on this. Over time, it will sink in that despite what pitchers do to him, he controls the at-bat. He can’t get away from his strengths. He can do as much damage as anyone in the game when he’s patient and gets a pitch that he can drive.
Those are things you can’t just tell somebody. Hitting coach would be the easiest job in baseball–not the hardest job in baseball–if you could just tell someone that and it would sink in through osmosis somehow. It just doesn’t work that way. Players need to figure it out naturally.
That’s a fair point and jibes with how many stud prospect struggle initially before eventually thriving, but Baez’s huge strikeout rates and lack of strike-zone control are definitely red flags for his overall development.
Baez has as much power potential as anyone in baseball and strikeouts come with that territory, but between the minors and majors he’s whiffed 208 times in 147 games this season and also hasn’t figured out yet how to draw walks.
Also, this is probably just me being a buzzkill, because Baez definitely looks capable of being a stud for the Cubs and he’s really, really fun to watch.