Javier Baez is leading the Detroit Tigers
By Jon Kloss
Despite all the criticism he faced last season and even more so early into the 2023 season, Javier Baez is playing the best baseball of his career in a Tigers uniform right now.
After being benched by AJ Hinch is April, Baez has responded in a big way, setting an example for the Detroit Tigers moving forward.
Javier Baez has and always will be a free swinger. Fans expecting him to become something he is not, is a pretty unrealistic expectation at this point in his career. After being benched by his manager, Baez is hitting .309 with 7 XBH and a Hard Hit % of 43.9%.
The even crazier stat when it comes to Javier Baez is his strikeout and walk numbers. Baez is walking at a career high clip, to the tune of a 5.6 BB%. Last year his BB% was at 4.4%.
Then the strikeout numbers. Fan knew this would likely be a problem for Baez moving forward, but to the surprise of many, Javy is striking out just 16.8% of the time. Last year Baez struck out at a 24.9% clip and the year prior it was 33.6%.
While his K% might not stay under 20%, if he can keep it in the lower 20s, than Baez should continue to produce offensively for the Tigers. Another stat that is interesting to examine, is Baez’s barrel percentage. According to Baseball Savant, Baez only has two barrels this year, adding up to just a 2.0% Barrel %. Last year Baez was barreling the ball up at a 8.0% clip for the Tigers.
Baez’s defense was a big talking point for the Tigers last year as he struggled at shortstop. While he is by no means a gold-glover at short, he has been better than last year. But the other big question with Baez remains, what is his long-term future with the Tigers?
Javier Baez does have an opt out after this season where he would leave four years/$98 million dollars on the table. At 30 years old, is it realistic for Baez to opt-out? That will depend on what he does the rest of the season. But the advanced numbers do look good for Baez. Now that's not to say he will not regress, but what kind of numbers will Baez need to put to become a true trade asset?
While Baez may not be a Scott Harris guy, he will factor into the Tigers plans in some way. The last couple of weeks have shown what Baez is capable of and the type of player he can.