Cubs fans had been lamenting the disappointing performance of Seiya Suzuki in the second year of his five-year deal, but imagine the collective freakout if Javier Báez was doing in Chicago what he has in Detroit. El Mago inked a six-year, $140 million deal with the Tigers prior to last season and slashed .238/.278/.393 with a 90 wRC+ and a 2.0 fWAR that was buoyed by his defense at short.
Things have not gone nearly as well this season in what will very likely end up being the worst performance of Javy’s career. He’s slashing .222/.261/.322 with a 60 wRC+ and 0.6 fWAR that is again propped up only by his defense. But what’s really troubling is the paltry .100 ISO that ranks 136th out of 143 qualified hitters. If it makes anyone feel better, Andrew Benintendi (.082) and Tim Anderson (.047) are worse.
Nick Madrigal is at .080 on the season, but he’s at .106 since returning from his demotion to Triple-A on June 9. In other words, Madrigal is more of a power hitter than Báez these days.
Perhaps the most confounding aspect of Javy’s struggles is that his strikeout rate is at a career-best 22.7% this season, more than five points below his career average. Not that you’d know it from the hopeless hack he took Thursday on a ball that had to have been a foot off the plate. I mean, the catcher was set up out there the whole time. Yikes.
I'm convinced Javy Baez would swing at a pickoff attempt. pic.twitter.com/8QnQAWbYGe
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 10, 2023
Later in the game, he struck out looking on a piped fastball like Christopher Morel. Maybe the Tigers need to do with Javy what the Cubs did with Suzuki, just sit him for a few games and have him get right mentally. There’s just way too much talent there for El Mago to be struggling this badly.