Javier Baez’s NL MVP Case

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Javier Baez’s NL MVP Case

Chloe Boxer, Editor in Chief

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An amazing season for one of the best players in Major League Baseball came to a bittersweet end on October 2.

Javier Baez, the Chicago Cubs’ second baseman and shortstop, had the best season of his young career thus far this past year. Many people, including myself, would argue he had the best season of any player in the National League and should be named 2018 MVP – and here’s why.

Let’s start with some context. This last season was rather rocky for the Chicago Cubs, due to sluggers having off years, pitchers constantly falling prey to injury, and their stellar third baseman missing almost half of the season with various injuries. The Cubs finished the regular season with 95 wins, just one behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite the constant issues plaguing the Cubs, they held the best record in the National League for most of the season, until the last week of September.

None of this would have been possible without Javier, or “Javy”, Baez. He won countless games by stealing home in the bottom of the 9th and was always driving in the winning runs. Baez concluded the season with the most RBI’s (111) in the National League, was second in extra base hits and triples, and 3rd in total bases and offensive WAR. He hit 34 home runs in the regular season and his slugging percentage was .554. Javier Baez is already at or very near the top of the leader boards for almost every category, but what really sets him apart is his defense in the infield. His nickname is El Mago, the magician, for a good reason. Many of the plays people may think would be impossible to complete are made to look effortless by Baez, and he consistently robbed the opposing team of base hits with his unbelievable versatility, at second base, shortstop, and even third base. Take a minute and look at a highlight reel of Baez’s best defensive plays of the year – your jaw will drop to the floor and you will understand why no other National League player deserves the MVP honor more than Javy.

The people who are opposed to Baez being crowned NL MVP almost all claim the honor belongs to Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich. He had the best batting average and the most hits in the National League at the end of the regular season. He is an amazing player, but he did not illustrate his abilities all season like Baez, slumping a few times throughout the long season.  September is not the only month of baseball, and there is more to baseball than batting average and hits, which Javy continuously proved on the field.

What about Baez’s strikeouts? He had one of the highest strikeout rates in MLB this past season, but it did not harm him in any way. He swings to hit a home run, or get an extra base hit, and as he matures as a player, the number of strikeouts he amasses will decrease significantly. Javy Baez is still a consistent hitter, despite the high strikeouts, and has immense power in his swing.

Consider what an MVP is by its definition – the most valuable player. Javier Baez was the most valuable player for the Cubs this year, and without him, the Cubs would have fallen to the Brewers long before October 2.

Baez is only 25 and surely has many legendary seasons ahead of him. He has already accomplished so much, his World Series win in 2016 and his start in the All-Star Game this past July, just to name two of his feats.

Without Javier Baez, the Chicago Cubs would have most likely lost at least 10 to 15 more games in which they had ultimately prevailed- and that’s what I call valuable.

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