Chicago Cubs rookie second baseman, Javier Baez has put on quite a show since making his much-anticipated debut last week. His all-or-nothing swing as produced three home runs and twelve strikeouts so far and everyone is dwelling on the strikeouts… seriously. The Cubs’ have a rookie who is hitting .276 with three home runs in his first week and we’re upset because he strikes out a lot?
Thanks to abrasive little league coaches and ignorant high school and college coaches, the entire baseball world has been taught to believe that you are a bad hitter if you strike out. They teach players to shorten their swing, widen out their stance and change their approach at the plate, all in an attempt to avoid the “big, bad strikeout”. To put that into context, in a game that is build around superstition and routines that rival the preciseness of German trains schedules, players are being taught to change everything about the way they hit just so they don’t strike out.
Realistically, striking out and grounding out to the shortstop are the same thing when there are no runners on base. In those situations there are no runners to drive in and there is no way to hit into a double play. According to ESPN.com eight of Javier Baez’s 12 punch-outs have occurred with no one on base. And to set the record straight, Javier Baez is a power-hitter, his job is to hit home runs and drive runners in. That being said, hitting a home run is the only way to “do his job” when no one is on base, so why would he try to do anything but go yard? If “doing his job” is basis for our argument, then Baez has been outrageously successful, hitting two home runs in his 14 at bats with no one on base. To put that into perspective, hitting a homer every seven at bats for the duration of a season (500 at bats) would net you 71 home runs. Congrats Javy.Baez’s strikeout rate can also be looked at as an incredible opportunity for growth. Baez will put the ball in play more as he gets used to big league pitching and the fact that he is hitting .276 is impressive as it is, but on balls put in play Baez is hitting .471. The kid can clearly hit. And once he learns what pitches he should and shouldn’t go after, he will finally become the hitter we imagined he would be.
But since we’ve all made up our minds and we’re going to dwell on strikeouts, here is a list of players who will drive you crazy!
Brett Jackson (CHC)
Mike Olt (CHC)
Mark Reynolds (ARI)
Javier Baez (CHC)
Adam Dunn (CHW)
Mark Reynolds (ARI)
(stats per baseball-reference.com)
Cub fans, you have a choice to make; you can choose to keep making the stink face every time Javier Baez goes down swinging, or you can enjoy the home runs and relish in the fact that Baez is one of only two players on that list who hit above .204.
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