The Javier Baez experiment within the leadoff spot is one which bears watching because the Cubs tackle the White Sox within the weather-delayed second recreation of the City Series at Wrigley Field on Saturday.
Baez has made six profession begins within the leadoff spot, and none this season, hitting .320 (Eight-for-25) with two residence runs, 5 RBIs and 5 strikeouts.
“‘Shieldsy’ has kind of reinvented himself a little bit, got a different arm stroke,” Maddon stated of the pitcher who as soon as was his ace with the Rays. “I needed to play (Ben Zobrist) again tomorrow, and (Giolito) is a greater matchup for ‘Zo’ than right now, so simply attempting to fill within the blanks and I believed it might be a great way to go.”
Baez, after all remains to be a free-swinger, and went into Saturday’s recreation with the fourth-highest swinging-strike fee (17.Eight %) of any participant with 100 or extra plate appearances. Ian Happ, who began out the season because the leadoff hitter, is worst at 22.three %.
A swing-and-miss man isn’t at all times a logical option to ignite the lineup, however Maddon likes the power Baez brings, and stated Baez regularly is getting higher at avoiding swinging at pitches out of the zone.
“It’s just a matter of the on-base thing, just accepting your walks,” Maddon stated. “That’s the one merchandise I’d wish to see him get higher at. He’s by no means going to be that poster baby for (OBP). He’s not going to be that so I’m not anticipating that.
“But simply to proceed to work the nice at-bat, transfer the baseball, keep in your strike zone. Because when he does make contact one thing good usually occurs. He’s nonetheless ascending. He’s nonetheless acquired issues to be taught. The energy is there. You can see that. He’s been actually good with runners in scoring place. You can see that. He can nearly hit wherever. I’ve been utilizing him on the backside as a result of he swings and misses quite a bit.
“But he’s cut down on that. But a swing-and-miss guy like that with power, you don’t want him in front of your better guys, but he can clean stuff up. His RBIs to me are the residue of that, although he’s done some really good work in the two-hole, too. We’re still figuring the whole thing out. The sky is the limit.”
Maddon identified that the prototypical lead-off man with velocity is a uncommon commodity lately. Sluggers like Bryce Harper and Chris Davis have led off this season, and the Red Sox steadily use Mookie Betts, who has a .772 slugging proportion, within the high spot.
“You’re looking for a guy that even when he’s not hitting well still can get on base somehow,” he stated. “That doesn’t happen as often. But maybe it happens through a Harper. Barry Bonds would be a perfect leadoff hitter right now because we used to walk him all the time anyways.”
Baseball is at all times adapting, as evidenced by the recognition of bullpennning. The experimental decisions within the leadoff spot are only one extra instance of the way in which the sport is altering.
“The attitudes have changed.” Maddon stated. “I’ve always done this kind of stuff… I just don’t see a lot of prototypical lead-off guys that we’ve seen in the past.”
Zobrist nonetheless goes to be the same old leadoff man in opposition to right-handers, however Maddon stated this is probably not a one-and-done with Baez.
“Go ahead and do it if you want, Javy,” he stated. “I pay attention to everything with all of our guys. I’m looking for the little tectonic shifts regarding how they’re getting better in different areas. And it’s happening, but you still have to have patience. It’s just not going to happen overnight.”