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Javier Baez Fantasy Outlook: Last Year's Small Setback Not a Deterrent on Draft Day

Minor injuries resulted in Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez falling out of the top 12 at his position. Drafters aren't deterred as SI Fantasy's Shawn Childs points out in this player outlook.

Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Báez put together a breakthrough season in 2018, but failed to live up to expectations and draft position last year because of a broken left thumb injury in early September.

His season was effectively derailed and only made a handful of unproductive appearances to close out the year. He also dealt with a heel injury in May.

Baez’s strikeout rate (27.8) remains a liability with little to no sign of improvement in his walk rate (5.0). Baez started strong in April (.302 with 23 runs, 9 HRs, and 22 RBI over 116 at-bats) with a good deal of power in June (seven HRs and 22 RBI). After the All-Star break, he batted .263 with seven home runs and 23 RBI over 175 at-bats despite seeing the field for four at-bats in September.

Baez hit great against left-handed pitching (.304 with 8 HRs, 17 RBI, and 8 SBs over 102 at-bats). He closed out 2019 ranked 83rd in hard-hit rate (43.6) while nearly duplicating his HR/FB rate (24.4). His grounder rate (50.3) was the highest of his career, while his fly-ball rate trended down for the third straight year (31.6 – 34.6 in his career).

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Baez hits for a very high contact batting average (.397) and provides a valuable RBI rate (17) and AVH (1.893). He lacks plate discipline and can be too much of a free swinger. He’ll need to change his swing path to have a shot at 40 home runs. His batting average risk can be offset by his ability to hit for a high average when the ball is in play.

Ultimately, Baez is a viable 100/30/100/20 player with a neutral batting average. His RBI chances in 2019 (335) came in 114 lower than 2018 (449). He needs Ian Happ, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to all get it together to maximize his RBI potential and see consistent strikes. His ADP of 40 seems to be moving up (albeit slowly) in recent months.

Plus, what’s there not to like about this guy?

READ MORE: 2020 Chicago Cubs Fantasy Team Preview

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