We Are Regal Radio co-founder and former Los Angeles Dodger scouting personnel Sean Terry continues his in-depth analysis of the Chicago Cubs and their playoff chances
All season, Chicago Cubs fans have had love for exciting young infielder Javier Baez, and now on the national stage of the 2016 postseason, Baez has not disappointed and he’s gained more fans outside of Chicago each game b making sparkling play after sparkling play and a little razzle-dazzle on top of each effort.
Baez is no ordinary fielder, as he possesses a rare blend of instincts and plays defense with tremendous body lean and explosive control that allows him to react quicker to the ball off the bat than most other players. These elements are what enable Baez to explode toward balls in play and throw with violent accuracy from a myriad of arm slots and motions.
In other words, Baez makes outs.
While Baez played the role of super-sub for the Cubs during the regular season where at some point or another he bounced around the field in seamless fashion, not skipping a beat to make dazzling outs at no less than six different positions in the field this season.
That said, as impressive a feat as that was during the regular season, the super-sub hat and the reigns for Baez have been removed as Maddon has entrenched his young talent as a lynch-pin at second base this 2016 post-season.
Not to devalue the ability to transition defensively at multiple positions, but the strength of every defense has to be up the middle, especially in the post season. To understand the difference that locking Baez in at 2nd makes on the defense, look no further than his Range Factor to understand this latest emergence.
Range Factor quantifies the defensive contribution of a player, calculated in its simplest form:
The statistic is premised on the notion that the total number of outs that a player participates in is more relevant in evaluating his defensive play than the percentage of cleanly handled chances as calculated by the conventional statistic fielding percentage.
In the case of Baez, his range factor at positions up the middle jump off the page when translated across to the sabermetrics numbers where the monumental jump in defensive runs saved pop off the page.
Cubs fans can rest assured the 2016 postseason has represented the turning point in which Baez has officially emerged as the 2nd baseman for now and the future.
Expect to see Javy’s game at second base on full display in Los Angeles as the NLCS takes shape over the next three games, where the expansive outfield at Dodger Stadium will require outfielders to play a bit deeper, leaving the alleys and gaps vulnerable for bloopers falling in for hits.
With the bright lights watching, along with more fan eyes than other stadium in the bigs (56,000 maximum seating capacity) Dodger Stadium is the perfect stadium to play canvass to Baez’ Basquiat-like performance, as the stadium’s Park Factor (- 97) makes it a middle difficulty ball park where the prevailing wind carry from the bowl from Chevez Ravine counters distances down the line (330 feet), in the alleys (375 feet) and to straightaway center (400 feet).
As exceptional as Baez’s Range Factor is, the Cubs will need every inch of range they can squeeze from Baez for games at Dodger Stadium as Maddon is expected to employ a couple of his less rangier defensive outfielders (Jorge Soler, Wilson Contreras, Chris Coghlan) for sport start duty beginning tonight.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio; Sean Terry is a co-founder of We Are Regal Radio