27.8 million won, .220 batting average, .575 OPS…crashes and burns in second year after free-agent bonanza.
It’s an unbelievable slump for a $22 million-a-year hitter. Javier Baez (31-Detroit Tigers) is floundering in his second year after signing a big free agent contract, and there’s no sign of a rebound. He’s so frustrated with his struggles that he’s decided to overhaul his game.
Baez missed his last game against the Kansas City Royals on April 18. It wasn’t an injury or a rest day, it was a slump, an adjustment. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Baez said, “I have to do better. I’m trying to stay positive and come back,” he said.
The Puerto Rican shortstop is a two-time All-Star and one-time Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner since making his debut with the Cubs in 2014. A member of the Cubs’ 2015 World Series championship team, he played eight seasons through 2021, batting .265 with 149 home runs, 465 RBIs and a .783 OPS in 862 games. He hit just 20 home runs in four seasons, including 34 in 2018.
In December 2021, he was eligible for free agency for the first time and signed a six-year, $140 million deal with Detroit. But he didn’t live up to expectations last year, batting just .238 (132-for-555) with 17 homers, 67 RBIs and a .671 OPS in 144 games.
This year, in his second year, he is on pace for a career-low .575 OPS with six homers, 44 RBIs and six doubles in 88 games (346-for-76). July has been particularly bad, with Baez batting 1-for-7 (42-for-72) with one home run, six RBIs and a .448 OPS in 11 games.
“I need to clear my mind and start over with my approach,” Baez said. “I have the ability to hit pitches out of the zone, but that’s what’s making it worse,” said Baez, who is spending more time in batting practice. I have to make pitchers throw me strikes,” he said of his weakness as a bad-ball hitter.
Baez’s out-of-zone swing rate was 44.1 percent in his first eight seasons, but it jumped to 48.6 percent in his first two years in Detroit. That’s the highest rate among 124 regular-season hitters over that span. “If I keep swinging, they’re going to keep throwing it out of the zone,” Baez said. That’s something I need to adjust,” Baez emphasized.
Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said, “He’s a realist, and he doesn’t deny the struggles he’s having. He’s very open about it. He’s very open about it. He’s very honest with the coaches about the adjustments he needs to make,” Hinch said, adding that he expects Baez to rebound with an open mind. He’s under contract through 2027, so he has to make the most of it.바카라
With a 42-51 record (.452 winning percentage) through 18 games, Detroit is in third place in the American League Central, five games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins (48-47, .505). It won’t be easy, but it’s not time to give up on an upset. All the more reason for Baez to rebound for the rest of the season.