Now is not the time to worry about Tigers most hated player

Detroit Tigers Photo Day
Detroit Tigers Photo Day / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Javier Baez has had a terrible spring training for the Detroit Tigers. He's hitting .045 in 25 plate apperances as of this writing. Nobody is going to disagree with how bad he's been. What I am going to disagree with is that we should be worried.

My colleague Tyler Kotila said that it's time to hit the panic button. He's 100% entitled to that opinion, and the majority of Tigers fans agree with him. And it's easy to feel that way.

Baez was signed to a six-year, $140 million contract right before the lockout hit in 2021. Many people, myself included, were not thrilled with this news. He had quick, sharp decline written all over him. Well, were all justified in those concerns. He's largely been awful in a Tigers uniform.

In 2022, he got off to a nice start, but ended up with just an 88 wRC+ and 17 homers, his lowest total in a full season since 2016. He followed that up with an even worse campaign in 2023. He had a 61 wRC+, ranking as the second-worst qualified hitter in baseball, only behind Tim Anderson of the White Sox.

Fans have every right to be upset about this. He's the highest paid player on the team now that Miguel Cabrera has retired, and he's arguably the worst hitter on the team now. But I also feel like fans are looking for any reason whatsoever to cut him loose.

Let me give you an example. Spencer Torkelson is just 4-for-27 (.148) this spring. Akil Baddoo is hitting just .167. Matt Vierling? Just .160. There hasn't been a peep about either of those guys. There seems to be some selective outrage going on here.

Another thing to note here is that panicking over any of these players is not worth it. Spring training stats don't mean anything. They never have. These games don't count. Spring training stats are not indicative of regular season success or failure.

I've said this a million times before, and I'll say it again: the Tigers are stuck with Javier Baez. They aren't to eat that much money. Get used to him. As long he keeps it up with the glove, he'll provide some value anyhow. He's not going anywhere.

However, I'll say this: if we reach May 1, and he's still looking like he has this spring, you can be concerned. By then, it'll have been more than a month into the regular season. If he's still struggling by then, then you can slam that panic button. But for now, there's no cause for concern.