Javier Baez – 2B
The Mets acquired Javier Baez at the trade deadline to try and be a spark plug for an offense that struggled all year. Baez did that and then some. As a Met, he slashed .299/.371/.515 with 9 home runs and 22 RBI. He exceeded pretty much anyone’s expectations.
Like Castellanos, Baez is a free agent. He has expressed an interest in returning to Queens and I’d love to have him back. Baez is a very good player and is very fun to watch.
However, also like Castellanos, Baez has a very clear flaw. Baez has awful plate discipline. In 361 plate appearances this season as a Cub, Baez drew 15 walks while striking out 131 times. He had a 4.2% walk rate and 36.3% strikeout rate as a Cub.
As a Met, Baez flipped a switch. He drew 13 walks in 186 plate appearances while striking out 53 times. His walk rate increased to 7% while his strikeout rate went down to 28.5%.
With Baez showing more plate discipline, he had one of the best offensive stretches in his career during his stint as a Met.
I was very critical of Baez because I never saw him do this. Do I think it’s sustainable? Probably not. I assume a lot of the improvements that were made were made with the thought of free agency in mind.
However, I’m willing to take the risk. Even with Baez showing awful plate discipline he’s still a very good player. He’s got absurd power. 30+ home run threats from a middle infielder are rare and the Mets could potentially employ two of those guys.
Baez adds a dimension on the base paths that the Mets lack as well. He stole 18 bases this season, a mark that would’ve led the Mets. He also is an elite base runner. He showed it on his dash to the plate to score the winning run against the Marlins after the thumbs-down controversy.
Baez also has an elite glove. He’s won a Gold Glove before and is willing to play second base in order to play with his good friend Francisco Lindor. The Mets would employ one of if not the best middle infield defenses in the game.
Baez is a really good player with or without plate discipline. He’s someone you can pencil in to do all of the little things while providing 30+ home run power and playing really good defense. He’s also a treat to watch. I’m all over the Mets bringing this guy back for the next 4-5 years.