Javier Baez just had his best series of the year for the Tigers

Javier Baez had an eight-hit weekend for Detroit.
May 6, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez (28) singles in the fifth
May 6, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez (28) singles in the fifth / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about a case of good timing. Thursday, Tigers manager A.J. Hinch told reporters that he wouldn't bench struggling shortstop Javier Baez.

Baez quickly paid Hinch back for his confidence. Across three games in Arizona, he went 8-for-13 with four doubles and seven RBI. He struck out just three times.

"It's been a long time since I (did) something like this, so it feels great," Baez told Bally Sports Detroit after Saturday's four-hit outburst. "I'm just moving my hands around, making adjustments. Just trying to see the ball, making my timing and trusting the process.

"I want to play," he continued. "I'm going to do my best to be out there every day and do my rehab stuff and try to stay out there on the field."

Baez is known for his glove, but that's been the case a little bit less this season even though he still puts up some highlight reel plays. At Baseball Savant, Baez carries a -3 fielding run value, among the lowest of Tigers starters and tied for the worst among MLB shortstops. At FanGraphs, his defensive value is listed at -1.2 currently, with a WAR of -0.4.

Long story short, a player who you could at least fall back on the argument of finding different ways to help his team win games has not been doing that this year, according to the metrics.

Even with the offensive outburst, he's hitting .209 on the year with .236 on-base percentage and .288 slugging for an OPS+ of 54 (where 100 is an average player).

Unlike some of his younger teammates, for whom you could point toward some indicator metrics that show they've been unlucky to start the season, that's not exactly true for Baez. While he's definitely been getting worse results than expected, the expected results still put him in the 11th percentile, or among the worst batters in the game right now.

One series isn't going to change everything, nor will it change the sinking feeling in Tigers fans' hearts when he steps to the plate in a key moment. It's going to take more series of timely hits and success to begin to change what is at this point several years of building dread.

But you've got to start somewhere, right?