Cubs expect Javier Baez to be their Opening Day second baseman despite rookie struggles

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Javier Baez hit just .169 with 95 strikeouts in 52 games as a 21-year-old rookie, but the Cubs are committed to him as their Opening Day second baseman next season.

Team president Theo Epstein revealed that to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, adding the following:

Javy is very likely to be given the opportunity to show he can make those adjustments at the big-league level. We believe he will. He’s got some of the best raw ingredients to work with in all of Major League Baseball. But his approach and some mechanical things need to be tweaked. He’s well aware of that (and) he’s excited to make those changes without losing his identity as an aggressive, feisty hitter in the box.

Baez did smack nine homers in 52 games, but a 95/15 K/BB ratio shows a totally overmatched hitter and he batted just .141 with two homers in his final 33 games. Baez was also good but not amazing at Triple-A, hitting .260 with 23 homers and an .833 OPS in 104 games, so sending him back there for a little additional seasoning doesn’t seem crazy.

However, the Cubs seem committed to letting their high-upside young talent sink or swim in the majors next season and Baez is a huge part of that process.