Based on his batting practice display on Saturday, Javier Baez may have to consider becoming a switch-hitter.
In 2018 Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez had a breakthrough season, hitting .290/.326/.554 with 34 home runs, 21 stolen bases and a National League-leading 111 RBI as he earned his first career All-Star selection. His batting average and OPS are down early this season, but the power numbers are still there (four home runs, four doubles, 12 RBI, .525 slugging percentage through Saturday).
Baez went three-for-five with three doubles and two RBIs in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, and he now has a hit in five of his last seven games. But it was his time in the batting cage before the game that is standing out.
High-level athletes can generally do things with both hands equally well. One example of an athlete who plays his sport one way and goes through the rest of life with the other hand dominant is golfer Phil Mickelson, who plays golf left-handed but writes and is otherwise right-handed.
On that note, check out what Baez did during batting practice on Saturday.
In October 2016, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune highlighted Baez’s skill at tagging runners out. But the start of his explanation on why he’s so adept at making tags are the money lines.
“Because I’m a lefty,” the Cubs infielder said. “I write lefty, I eat lefty, I even can hit lefty. With that on my glove side, I have really quick hands. I let the ball travel, and as soon as I catch it, my hand goes down to the tag.”
Turns out Baez was an outfielder as a boy in Puerto Rico, before being moved to the infield and trading for a right-handed glove. He was a switch-hitter into high school, before giving it up during his junior year due to a back injury.
To be fair, there’s a long way between batting practice pitches and the velocity and movement a major league pitcher offers. But Baez hit two home runs left-handed, and seems to have a natural swing from that side of the plate. He’s doing just fine as a right-handed hitter, but maybe Baez will start to entertain the idea of becoming a switch-hitter again.