When the Detroit Tigers signed shortstop Javier Baez last off-season, the move was met with a lot of differing opinions. On one hand, Detroit had just signed a slick-fielding shortstop who can slug the baseball. On the other hand, Detroit had also just signed a very free swinger who has some consistency issues. The first year of his six-year contract has been met with quite polarizing results, which may or may not come as a surprise.
The first half of the season was quite a struggle for Javier Baez. He limped into the All-Star break with a .213 with nine home runs. He struck out in 76 of his 301 at-bats (25.2%) and had a measly slugging percentage of just .375. Fans weren't exactly willing to let his underperformance slide. He commented about fans booing him in June, saying “I’m just going to go out there, be myself and play hard.”
Detroit Tigers: The Second Half Emergence of Javier Baez
Since the All-Star break, however, Baez has shown some serious improvement. In 51 games since the break, he has posted a .286 batting average (56-for-196). He's only hit five home runs since the break, but the improvement in overall average is much more encouraging. His on-base percentage has also improved quite a bit well, rising up to .281 for the season.
The month of September in particular has been kind to Javier Baez. He has played in 16 games this month, and he has at least one hit in 14 of those games, including seven extra-base hits. This month alone his average has climbed from .223 (September 1) to .241 (September 18).
One thing that has plagued Baez all season, however, has been his defensive play. He leads the league in errors, and it isn't even particularly close. His 26 errors pace the league, with the next closest amount being 18.
With the high expectations that come with such a big contract, it's fair to say that Javier Baez has not lived up to his end of it so far. But as we have seen in the second half, he is capable of turning it back on. We only have about three weeks left in the regular season. The biggest question for Baez is whether or not he can complete his first season in Detroit on a high note, and head into the offseason with at least a little bit of momentum.