Maddon: Baez's Baserunning Signaled Star Potential

"Javy sees things on the field more quickly than anybody," Joe Maddon says.

Laurence Holmes Show
August 06, 2019 - 2:01 pm
Cubs shortstop Javier Baez

Patrick Gorski/USA Today Sports

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(670 The Score) Cubs star shortstop Javier Baez celebrated the five-year anniversary of his MLB debut in style Monday evening, hitting two homers to lead the Cubs to a 6-5 win against the Athletics at Wrigley Field.

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The occasion also represented an opportunity for manager Joe Maddon to reflect about how far Baez has come and elevated his game. Maddon has always been as big of a Baez supporter as there is, and he had an inkling that Baez would be a star from the first time he laid his eyes on him as Cubs manager.

The reason? Baez's baserunning.

"When I got the job, before the first season, I went to Puerto Rico and watched him play," Maddon said on the Laurence Holmes Show on Tuesday afternoon. "That was part of the gig, for me to go down there and get to know him a little bit better. So I flew down ... and Eddie Perez was his manager at that time. Eddie and I go way back. So I go there, I sit and I watch the game and I talk to Javy. I'm watching the one game and he didn't hit anything that day, but that didn't matter. He made a play to his left at second base that was substantial. And then his baserunning acumen -- for me, a lot of times a young player is going to demonstrate their baseball instincts by what they do on the bases. Even as a scout ... I would be really in tune to watching the guys run the bases. And when a guy showed you really good instinct on the bases, I would really perk up. And sometimes when a guy didn't, that's going to continue. It's hard to coach bad baserunning out of a guy.

"Javy sees things on the field more quickly than anybody else can. And he demonstrated that to me in San Juan in that one particular game."

In spring training 2015, Maddon lobbied the front office for Baez to make the roster out of spring training. Baez didn't, but Maddon had a feeling of what was coming -- a talented player breaking out in due time.

It happened in 2018, when Baez was the National League MVP runner-up. And it has continued to this day, as Baez was again an All-Star this season and is a central reason why the Cubs lead the NL Central.

"His baseball instinct is so high," Maddon said.