Detroit Tigers veteran who put in a ton of work this off-season is struggling

Detroit Tigers veteran Javier Báez put in a ton of work this off-season, but the results he's yielded this spring are less than exciting.
Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez (28) looks on after striking out during Spring Training.
Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez (28) looks on after striking out during Spring Training. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers are working through Spring Training and getting things in order ahead of the 2024 campaign. Every year, players are looking to make strides in their development. Whether it's year one, year ten, or the final year, players use this time to hone in on their craft.

Spring Training is off-and-running, and one of the Detroit Tigers veterans has been looking to make some noise. Javier Báez boasted about his off-season and how it was different -- spending the time in Tampa Bay working on his swing and frame rather than returning to Puerto Rico.

Báez even was the player who boasted the "best shape of his life" comments this spring, talking about how this off-season of work was good for him. He focused on working on his core and rotational strength, which was expected to improve his strength off the barrel and overall pop.

After hitting .222/.267/.325 last season with 18 doubles, four triples, and nine home runs along the way, driving in 59 runs. He walked 24 times and was punched out 125 times in 2023. There was plenty of room for improvement for Báez, and he sought out some development this off-season.

Detroit Tigers veteran Javier Báez has not lived up to the expectations.

Báez set out some expectations after this loud off-season. But the reality is that not everyone bought into this off-season of hard work. Even A.J. Hinch did not stamp his approval on Báez's off-season work. Hinch hinted that the better lineup around Báez would be a way to ease the pressure on the former All-Star.

Saying something like this after Báez struggled so immensely in 2023 certainly does not add much confidence. Looking at the spring stats -- it's not pretty. There's not a lot of room to believe in Báez to this point, either. His lackluster performance may be Spring Training jitters, and I'm trying not to put too much stock into it, but there's something to be said.

Five games into spring ball, Báez has gone hitless through his first 11 trips to the plate. He has five strikeouts along the way, as well. Certainly not the start to the spring that the Tigers are hoping for with their player, who will cost them approximately $23.3 million for the next four years, including 2024.

Báez has been looking like the "Same old Báez," to quote some Lions fans and the "Same Old Lions" moniker. He's taken 11 trips to the plate, with nearly a 50% punchout rate; it has not been a great start. The spring is long, and there's time to pick things up, but there's plenty to worry about with Báez and the upcoming season.