By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) Cubs infielder Javier Baez will never be in short supply of highlight moments, from attention-grabbing defensive flourishes to home runs of all kinds, like the booming tap-measure variety or Monday’s night’s mad inside-the-park dash that touched all the bases.
What has been missing since he debuted in 2014 has been some consistency in his offensive production, a settling down into reliability beyond the occasionally spectacular. As brilliant as Baez has been in the field, it would only take some steadying to solidify his overall value.
We may be starting to see it.
As the 24-year-old Baez gets regular time to fill in for injured shortstop Addison Russell, he’s now putting up the best offensive numbers of his brief big league career. Baez is slashing .268/.311/.493, good for an OPS of .804. If there are other metrics you prefer, his OPS+ is 105, his wRC+ is up to 98 and his wOBA of .325 is a big league personal-best.
There’s still a long way to go for Baez, and his vast talent demands that we’re careful not to damn him with faint praise, by celebrating him just being pretty good or better. But his current trajectory certainly beats some alternatives.