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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Does Javier Báez’s enigmatic nature make his impending free agency messier?

What is so extraordinary about Javy is the concept of what we can quantify out of a baseball player and what we cannot. What we can quantify is that Báez has had a five strikeout game and a pair of three strikeout games in barely more than a month in Mets uniform. He’s also hit eight home runs, which trails Pete Alonso by just one over that time for the team lead. In fact, his offensive numbers during his tenure in Queens might be mildly shocking, considering the narratives and said thinkpieces swirling around him thus far.

As of this writing, Báez has registered 119 plate appearances in a Mets uniform, having been limited by injury for a very short stretch. In that time, he’s slashed .300/.353/.582/.935, with a .282 ISO, a 153 wRC+, and an fWAR of 1.3. He’s also struck out nearly 29 percent of the time while walking at less than a five percent clip. Having struggled so much with the Cubs, that runs his cumulative slash up to .262/.310/.509/.819, with a .247 ISO and strikeout rate actually near 35 percent.

There is perhaps nothing that better illustrates Javier Báez as a baseball player than that blob of numbers above. You take the good with the bad. Because there is so much good. And so much of the opposite. He’s streaky, he’s messy, and he’s astounding. In April, Báez hit .244. In May, he was at .281. Then, he hit just .157 before following it up with a .320 July. A .213 August was followed by this .422 first half of September. Same goes for the power. There’s a June of a .217 ISO sandwiched in between a .250 May and .240 July. His August ISO was just .197, which followed that .240 July and preceded this obscene .356 September. His inability to consistently produce, really on both sides of the ball, is the heavy part of why we see narratives formed around him.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2021 at 04:41 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: javier baez

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: September 15, 2021 at 06:50 PM (#6039869)
There’s a June of a .217 ISO sandwiched in between a .250 May and .240 July. His August ISO was just .197, which followed that .240 July

If anything, that is remarkable consistency in ISO. Even for a walk-resistant guy like Javy, a 30 point swing in ISO in a month is just 3-4 XB -- i.e. +/- one HR. His HR rates by month this year go (approx) 1 per 16 PA, 1 per 14 PA, 1 per 18 PA, 1 per 16 PA, 1 per 22 PA (panic!!), 1 per 12 PA (whew). Vlad has gone 1 per 15, 1 per 13, 1 per 11, 1 per 14, 1 per 22 (panic!), 1 per 11 (whew). (The BA example is better, I don't know why the author brought this one up.)

There's no such thing as a "consistent" MLB hitter -- nor would you likely want one on your team. Vlad has gone hitless in 25% of his games (there would be some walks) and another 10% when he contributed nothing but a single in 4+ PA. You'd have to get a WAR wizard but I wouldn't be surprised if it was something like 2/3 of his value comes in 1/3 of his games (and probably an even smaller percentage of his PAs).** Even for an all-emcompassing stat like Rbat and even for a great, "consistent" hitter like Miggy, his Rbat totals in his prime went 27, 43, 52, 37, 23, 40, 55, 64, 52, 66, 37, 40, 43 ... until the very end there, the smallest year-to-year change is 9 runs, nearly 1 win; the average over the first 10 differences is 15.

Now sure, Javy has been higher variance than Miggy -- it's not to deny that some hitters (and maybe hitting styles) will be less consistent than others. It's that the level of "random" variation in baseball is so high that the player-to-player differences aren't really telling you anything worthwhile. (That is Miggy is a consistently good hitter, but "consistent" in baseball is something like +/- 1.5 wins a year and that's before you get to stuff like injuries, playing time and aging) -- and that's just the hitting component. You have no choice but to accept the randomness of individual player production. If you want "consistency" the best you can do is stock your team with as many average-good-excellent hitters as you can such that hopefully, in any one game, 3 of them are producing like average Vlad and 3 of them are producing like average themselves to counteract the 3 that are producing like a slow Billy Hamilton.

** When you think about it, unless you are a big believer in productive outs and the intentionality of sacrifice flies, then all of a player's value as a hitter (not runner/fielder) must occur in the proportion of PAs where no outs are made -- i.e. the OBP tells you the proportion of PAs which contain all of the value. Then singles and walks are only worth so much. I get a WAG that Vlad has created about 43% of his value in 11% of his PAs (his XBH); the remainder in about 30% (singles and walks); and 59% of the time he's been hurting his team. That's the sort of math that helps produce Oafball.
   2. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 16, 2021 at 11:41 AM (#6039961)
The variability of outcomes for Javy seems higher than just about any other player.
   3. The Duke Posted: September 16, 2021 at 12:00 PM (#6039965)
He seems like a perfect Met to me
   4. Itchy Row Posted: September 16, 2021 at 12:30 PM (#6039970)
He's fun to watch, as long as he's not playing for my team or against my team.
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 16, 2021 at 02:01 PM (#6039993)
Baez is playing very well for the Mets, but he’s got a career .306 OBP and strikes out awfully frequently, with more than a 6:1 ratio to his BB. He seems to be rather thin-skinned, and one wonders about the mental aspect of a player who apparently thought it was a good idea to overtly display hostility toward his own team's fans. Very hard to value, especially on a long term deal. If he wants to bet on himself, a 1 or 2 year deal at “medium money” with lots of incentives and/or some pricier option years might be the way to go. Otherwise, I suspect his offers are at a considerable discount from what he may think he’s worth.
   6. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 16, 2021 at 03:26 PM (#6039999)
When you think about it, unless you are a big believer in productive outs and the intentionality of sacrifice flies, then all of a player's value as a hitter (not runner/fielder) must occur in the proportion of PAs where no outs are made


I'd quibble with this a bit. There's Reached on Error, which has a higher liklihood when runners are on base. This means it should have a higher weighted value than an infield hit. I'd guess about .55 or .6 runs but I dont know what values the various systems are using.

In extreme case e.g. Clemente or Bert Campaneris (both 2%) that could be like 3.5 runs/season vs an average player.

ALso GiDP. For an extreme outlier like Ernie Lombardi (career leader) probably 22 or so more GIDP than average guy. Something like -10 runs/season for him. To be sure, GiDP is shown separately as Rdp not Rbat.

But another enjoyable to read and well done post.
   7. The Honorable Ardo Posted: September 16, 2021 at 03:53 PM (#6040004)
I want Baez talked down as much as possible - so the Tigers can sign him at a reasonable price. Doing everything else well compensates for his low OBP.
   8. dejarouehg Posted: September 16, 2021 at 03:57 PM (#6040005)
His fielding has been a major disappointment this season, though I expect him to bounce back. After the thumbs-down nonsense I didn't believe there was much of a chance the Mets would pursue him. Not so sure anymore.

I think when he's fielding well, he's a much better SS than Lindor.....or even when he's fielding like he has been this season.

I think he's got value as a 6/7 hitter in a league with a DH; Just nowhere close to the value he believes he has.
   9. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 16, 2021 at 03:59 PM (#6040006)
Incidentally, I think Baez's baserunning value is devalued by whatever system BRef is using. His CS/SB ratio should be enuf for 1.5 runs this year but Rbase give him 0.

He's excellent at running the bases, he takes the extra base 62% of the time (Mays career 60%). He also is VG at bases taken (BT stat) and he's probably above average at Outs on the Basepaths (basically anytime you're not forced out). I'd definitely give him 2 runs for XB and 1 run for BT, not even awarding any value for OOB, he should value 4.5 runs on baserunning.

Maybe I am missing something, but I think we need to take another look at the Rbase stat.
   10. Tin Angel Posted: September 16, 2021 at 04:12 PM (#6040008)
He would definitely have to bring his enigmatic rate down closer to league average before I'd want to sign him.
   11. Brian C Posted: September 16, 2021 at 09:10 PM (#6040032)
Otherwise, I suspect his offers are at a considerable discount from what he may think he’s worth.

On the other hand, we're talking about a guy who put up 6.4 and 6.6 bWAR in the last two pre-pandemic years, and 4.5 this season.

I have to say that I don't see anything particularly "enigmatic" about Baez. He's just a very streaky hitter, and otherwise he's an excellent all-around player. Nothing to really puzzle over there.
   12. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 16, 2021 at 09:26 PM (#6040036)
Baez seems to make a lot of outs on the bases, at least during his time on the Mets. He’s also created a few runs with excellent baserunning. I can believe that it’s a net zero during his time with the Mets.
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 16, 2021 at 09:44 PM (#6040038)
On the other hand, we're talking about a guy who put up 6.4 and 6.6 bWAR in the last two pre-pandemic years, and 4.5 this season.


That only holds if you believe DRS. If you look at UZR, it.s 5.4, 4.4, and 3.6.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: September 16, 2021 at 09:48 PM (#6040040)
Owner Cohen seemed very defensive on Twitter when Baez got criticized, and he's got $11 billion reasons to do whatever he wants.

so while I think paying more than a half-billion to Lindor and Baez would be really stupid (partly because you can't maximize the value of playing two SSs at SS), I wouldn't be shocked.
   15. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 16, 2021 at 10:19 PM (#6040043)
That only holds if you believe DRS. If you look at UZR, it.s 5.4, 4.4, and 3.6.

Just a minor quibble, but those are still good WARs. That's basically Lou Whitaker.
   16. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 16, 2021 at 10:56 PM (#6040045)
Yeah, a strong defensivle middle infielder who is a decent hitter and is only 29 next year should not have a problem finding a market.

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