Monday, January 17 2022

Javier Baez is the type of player who endears himself to fanbases and ruffles the feathers of rivals.

He plays hard, he saves his pitcher runs with his defense, he creates runs his base-running and is always ready to defend his teammates — from the opposition and from fans.

Then again, some dislike his penchant for strikeouts (he led the National League with 184 strikeouts in 2021), his swagger and his celebratory style. He won’t hesitate to talk to opposing hurlers and has had beef with certain pitchers in the past (hey, Amir Garrett).

[ Subscribe for $1 to gain access to our most exclusive analysis on this deal and everything else the Tigers do this offseason ]

Detroit Tigers fans will have plenty of time to draw their opinions. Baez signed a six-year deal Tuesday with the Tigers.

Baez, who will turn 29 on Wednesday, hit .265 with 31 home runs and 87 RBIs in 138 games between the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets last season. He stole 18 bases and walked 28 times, registering a .319 on-base percentage and a .494 slugging percentage (.813 on-base plus slugging).

MORE: Tigers sign Baez, not Correa or another top shortstop. Here’s why.

ANALYSIS: Tigers must make decisions about these 8 arbitration-eligible players

If nothing else, he should provide a jolt of power, flash eye-popping defense and generate more general interest in the Tigers. Get to know him:

Who is Javier Baez?

Baez is known for bat flips, late-game heroics, his thumbs and his friendship with fellow Puerto Rico native Francisco Lindor, but here, let’s stick to the basics.

Most fans probably associate Baez with former Cubs general manager Theo Epstein, since the two won the 2016 World Series together, he was actually drafted ex-Cubs GM (and former Dave Dombrowski assistant) Jim Hendry ninth overall in the 2011 draft. He became a top-60 prospect within a season and debuted in Chicago in 2014, hitting a decisive, extra-inning home run in his first game.

From there, he’s made the All-Star game twice (2018, 2019), won a Silver Slugger (2018) and was the National League Championship Series co-MVP in 2016, hitting .318 with five RBIs, four doubles and two stolen bases in the series. He had three hits and three RBIs in Game 5.

But perhaps his most attractive, and consistent, skills are his base-running and defense.

THE DEAL: Tigers to sign shortstop Javier Baez to 6-year, $140 million contract

A different kind of base-runner

Baez won’t steal 40 bases, but he’s an opportunistic extra-base taker and has a knack for avoiding tags and winning rundowns.

There was this unbelievable play in Pittsburgh that symbolized just how creative Baez can be on the basepaths — and how hopeless the Pirates, who finished 61-101, would be in 2021.

[embedded content]

My favorite part is him signaling safe before booking it to first (and then second). Or that at any time, even after the runner crossed the plate, the first baseman could have tagged the bag and ended the inning, rendering the run moot. But El Mago has an effect on guys sometimes.

And at shortstop, he’s won a Gold Glove in 2020 and has four times been named to the acclaimed Fielding Bible team (2016-18, 2020).

He can nearly cover four lanes of traffic with his range and his arm strength from the hole can turn an infield single or bouncer through the hole into a disappointing jog to the dugout.

Take a look:

[embedded content]

He hears you

Baez and the 2021 Mets made headlines for being mightily talented, but also underachieving. The team slogged to the finish line after a rash of trade-deadline deals and were booed in August by the Citi Field faithful, prompting a thumbs down to the crowd from Baez and two teammates. Baez, Lindor and Kevin Pillar, who all poo-poo’d the audience, apologized for the gestures.

Sports pundits were aghast he’d signaled negatively toward the fans while others thought it was simply a player returning some of the energy they get.

[embedded content]

Baez has had run-ins with the Cincinnati Reds, among other teams, because of his willingness to speak his mind or defend his teammates. Expect the same at Comerica Park.

Follow the Free Press on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Tyler Davis can be contacted at tjdavis@freepress.com or on Twitter @TDavisFreep.

Your subscription makes work like this possible. Get exclusive subscriber content and more here.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: New Detroit Tigers SS Javier Baez a well-rounded champion

Source: Yahoo Sports

Previous

How highly anticipated Warriors-Suns game will make NBA history

Next

Daily statistical milestones: Kyle Lowry moves past Scottie Pippen and more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Pro Sports Media

Trending Now

Kevin Durant hopeful his injury is not too serious

Nick Friedell: KD just walked out of the Barclays Center with a little bit of a limp — but sounded hopeful that the injury wasn’t too serious. Didn’t think it was as bad as when Zaza fell into him. Doesn’t know if he’ll travel to Cleveland yet — will wait to see what MRI says.Source: […]

Read More

Detroit Red Wings game score vs. Anaheim Ducks: TV, time, radio, matchup info

When: 10 p.m. Thursday. Where: Honda Center in Anaheim, California. TV: Bally Sports Detroit Plus. Radio: WXYT-FM (97.1) (Red Wings radio affiliates). • Box score GET MEAN: Wings must make ‘the opponent pay a hard price’ to beat top teams ABOUT LAST GAME: Givani Smith‘s big, short impact vs. Sharks may keep him on the […]

Read More

Jazz vs Nuggets Betting Offers: NBA Free Bets

The Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets are considered contenders in the Western Conference this season. However, they have recently been headed in different directions. There are plenty of Jazz vs Nuggets betting offers and NBA free bets to claim for this big Western Conference clash.  The Jazz have lost four games in a row while […]

Read More