Recapping Javy Báez’ magical run: His best moments from each season with Cubs
Shortstop will be a little less magical for the Cubs.
Javy Báez’ run with the Cubs ended Friday when he and Trevor Williams were traded to the New York Mets.
In a draft class bursting with talent, the Cubs selected one of the premier prospects in the class in Báez. The 2011 first round and supplemental round featured four shortstops who would go on to become All-Stars — Francisco Lindor, Báez, Joe Panik and Trevor Story.
Báez debuted in 2014 with the Cubs and his run with the team was memorable. He was a two-time All-Star, won a Gold Glove in 2020, a Silver Slugger in 2018 and finished second in MVP voting in 2018. He was a crucial part of the Cubs’ run to the 2016 World Series, winning NLCS co-MVP with Jon Lester as he went 7-for-22 with 5 RBI against the Dodgers.
He posted a .262/.303/.474 slash line with 140 home runs, 443 RBI and 76 stolen bases. He posted a 21.9 WAR in his time with the Cubs. His 2018 run was exhilarating, as he hit 34 home runs with an .881 OPS a 6.4 WAR and a league best 111 RBI in 160 games finishing second in MVP voting to Christian Yelich.
He followed it up with a just-as-impressive 2019, hitting 29 home runs and 85 RBI and posting a 6.7 WAR before he suffered a fractured thumb that effectively ended his season.
As we look back on Báez’ time in Chicago let’s look at his best moment from each season
First Career home run
For a big-league debut, the performance was looking rather bleak for Javy Báez. Against the Colorado Rockies in his first MLB game, Báez was 0-for-5.
To make matters worse, in the bottom of the 11th with a 5-4 lead, Báez made an error that allowed Jason Pridie reach base. He would score three batters later extending the game.
But, oh, did Báez make up for it.
On the first pitch he saw leading off the 12th inning, Báez crushed an opposite field home run that sparked a 6-5 win for the Cubs over the Rockies.
NLDS Game 4 home run off John Lackey
Báez showed his knack for the big moment against a playoff veteran.
With the Cubs trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the 2nd inning against John Lackey and the Cardinals, the Cubs had runners on first and second when Báez came up to the plate. Lackey threw him a first pitch fastball out of the zone, but Báez crushed it to right field to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead and sent a sold-out Wrigley crowd into a frenzy.
The Cubs would go on to beat the Cardinals 6-4, winning the series 3 games to 1. It was the first time the two teams had met in the National League playoffs.
NLCS Game 1 stealing home
The legend of “El Mago” grew.
Leading 2-0 against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS, Báez was on third with Jon Lester hitting. Báez broke for home as the pitch was thrown.
What ensued was some of Báez’ magic.
Lester pulled his bunt attempt, Báez bluffed his run to home, appearing as though he was heading back to third. Dodgers’ catcher Carlos Ruiz rifled the ball to third baseman Justin Turner. As he did that, Báez broke for home, sliding in underneath Turner’s throw back to Ruiz to extend the Cubs’ lead to 3-0.
Báez would go on to win co-NLCS MVP honors with Jon Lester as the Cubs won the World Series.
2-HR game in NLCS
With the Cubs on the brink of elimination, Báez delivered.
In Game 4 of the NLCS, Báez hit two solo home runs off Alex Wood as the Cubs beat the Dodgers 3-2 and staved off elimination.
Both pitches were pitchers pitches — a pair of off-speed pitches low and out of the zone — were crushed by Báez to left field.
Báez steals home on July 4
The moniker “El Mago” came for various reasons for Báez. There’s the defense, the tagging and his work with a bat.
On Independence Day 2018, his slide around James McCann as he stole home was another chapter in the El Mago storybook.
Báez broke for home on a pickoff attempt to first and slid around the would be tag of McCann to score and steal home for the Cubs.
2-HR Opening Day
Javy waved his wand to hit the 1st home run of the campaign, taking a low pitch and pulling it to left center.
He followed that with a home run off former teammate Jesse Chavez to deep right center, a 3-run run shot that was part of a 6-run fifth inning. It sparked the Cubs to a 12-4 Opening Day win in Texas.
1st walk-off win with no fans
In a tie game in the bottom of the 11th, Báez gave Cubs fans a walk-off moment they won’t soon forget.
Playing in an empty stadium because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Báez hit a single through a 5-man infield to walk-off a 2-1 win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field. The celebration that ensued was one for the ages.
In order to observe social distancing, Báez and his Cubs teammates huddled around him, distant and air-fived as they celebrated the win.
Baserunning chaos in Pittsburgh
One of the lasting images in Báez’ last season as a member of the Cubs will be a play that only he could pull off.
After hitting a lazy grounder that seemingly was ending the inning, Báez strolled back to first while first baseman Will Craig followed him down the line. Báez did it long enough to where Willson Contreras was able to race from second to home.
Craig threw the ball to his catcher to try and tag Contreras out at home as he slid in. Contreras was safe, Báez even signaled so, then Báez darted to first to allow the run to count, slid in ahead of a wild throw and advanced to second.
It was his finest magical act.