In a recent blog, I argued that trading Addison Russell and Mike Montgomery for Manny Machado was in the best long-term interest of the Cubs. My thesis is based on the belief that Javier Baéz is the Cubs’ shortstop of future. And my thesis was HEAVILY panned by pretty much everyone who cared to comment on the blog. Addi this Addi. Apparently the guy I had been watching the last three years was actually Derek Jeter! Who knew!? Forget about the Machado deal. I want to know why everyone seems so attached to Addi, and so indifferent toward Javy. In an attempt to better understand the Addi-infatuation, I’m systematically and (hopefully) rationally comparing the value of Javy and Addy. I present… The first ever “WHO YA GOT?”.
- Power: Advantage Baez
- I’m giving a SLIGHT advantage here to Javy Baez. Both have shown streaky home run power, but Baez has a marginally higher slugging percentage and better plate appearances per home run.
- Spray Hitting: Advantage Baez
- Considerable advantage here for Baez. Javy’s career batting average is fifteen points higher than Addison’s with comparable at-bats. While Baez is undeniably streaky, over the course of a 162- game season, it’s hard to imagine him not hitting between .260-.280. Baez has not hit below .273 since his rookie year. Russell has never hit above .242.
- Plate Discipline: Advantage Russell
- No contest. Addi is no Joey Votto, but he takes his walks and forces pitchers to throw strikes. Javy… doesn’t. His swing has holes and pitchers with plus breaking stuff often take Javy behind the woodshed.
- Defensive Range: Advantage Russell
- Slight advantage here to Addi. This comparison is about the merits of each guy at SHORTSTOP. Javy has looked excellent when playing at short, and is a wizard everywhere in the infield, but Addi truly has some of the best range (both ways) I have ever seen at shortstop. No one is better than Addi at getting a beat on a sharp grounder that no one else even GETS to, and converting it into outs.
- Arm Strength: Advantage Baez
- Slight advantage Javy. Addi certainly has plus arm strength, but Baez has a laser. Arm strength will not, and should not, be the deciding factor in this debate. But worth noting. NEXT!
- Base Running: Advantage Baez
- This isn’t even close. Addi has been pretty underwhelming on the bases. Kris and even Jon Jay outclassed him on the basepaths in 2017. Javy, on the other hand, while often maddening, is a game-changer once he gets on base. He doesn’t steal a ton of bases, (22 in past two seasons vs Addi’s 7) but everyone who watches 162 (or maybe like, 4) games of Cubs baseball knows that Javy is always aggressive and frequently outstanding on the basepaths.
- Contract: Wash
- Both guys are under club control until 2022. Javy is arbitration eligible a year later, but any financial disparity between these two is non-material.
- Intangibles: Advantage Baez
- Not to shit on Addison Russell here… But he’s not a good guy. He’s as vanilla as it gets in the clubhouse and is confirmed a bad guy off the field. I’m no moral supremacist, but he’s an alleged woman beater and a confirmed cheater. Innocent until proven guilty, but not the kind of character you want to build your franchise around. Javy, on the other hand, is a character superstar. Biggest smile in the clubhouse every day. Plays everywhere and never complains. Consistently doing the right things off the field. The guy has made a truly positive impact on sick kids and his own street in Humboldt Park for Christ’s sake.
And that’s all we got. Agree, disagree, let me know. Addison is consistent but often underwhelming at the plate. Javy is electric but maddening in his inconsistency and inability to correct holes in his swing and zone. No one knows what the future holds, but I would be shocked if both guys are still on the club in 2021 (the last year under club control). If you could only have one… WHO YA GOT?