Could Javy Báez Hit Left-Handed at MLB Level?
There may be nothing Javy Báez can’t do. Seriously, would you be surprised if I told you he was a master yo-yo champion and could identify paleolithic bird species by their fossilized beaks? How about if I shared a story of him defeating Chuck Norris in a staring contest?
He’s an anomaly and an enigma all wrapped up into one person, if indeed he’s actually human at all. We all know El Mago is a magician on the diamond and his mastery of baseball knows no bounds, which of course means the naturally left-hand-dominant Báez can hit left-handed. Because of course he can. The question is, why isn’t this a thing beyond the batting cage?
His left-handed stroke looks smooth, less violent and more balanced that the cuts we’re used to seeing, though that’s perhaps because he’s not cutting it loose. And you’d think he’d have at least as much power from that side because it’s more natural. He actually used to hit and throw left-handed, but gave up the hitting because it hurt his hip and throwing because he became a shortstop.
Wait, that prolific swing and rocket arm are coming from his “weak” side?
With all that in mind, and even as good as Báez has become at the plate, might it be worth exploring the option of hitting left-handed again? He’s clearly a good enough athlete to make it work and maybe his eye would be slightly better and he’d walk more. Okay, maybe that’s not in his nature, but being a competent lefty batter would help on sliders in the dirt from right-handed pitchers.
Throw in the added advantage out of the box for a guy who’s pretty quick (28.4 sprint speed/3.96 90 ft) and now you’re really talking about a boost. Those extra fractions of a second might mean more hits, more runs, more extra bases, and, ultimately, more wins for the Cubs.
While Javy batting lefty feels like just a novelty, the fact that it happens somewhat regularly and seems to be increasing in frequency tells me that it’s not an injury issue at this point. And the fact that he looks pretty darn good doing it means he could probably invest more time in trying to become a competent lefty hitter. Again, this is something he did into his prep days, so it’s not just some whim that’s coming out of the blue.
So could Javy really make himself into a threat from both sides of the plate? It’s beyond unlikely, but it’s an interesting enough topic that we’re going to be exploring the logistics of it in a future post.