4. Javier Baez, IF, Chicago Cubs
After one of the best offseasons in recent memory, the 2016 Cubs look to be the clear World Series favorite heading into the season. With the additions of Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, John Lackey, and several others, the Cubs not only have strong starters, but also strong depth as well. One important piece for 2016 is IF/OF/super utility player Javier Baez. Going into 2016, Baez could theoretically play up to six positions for the Cubs, including all three outfield positions and second base, shortstop, and third base. With Ben Zobrist slated to be the new second baseman for the Cubs, Baez should be able to fill in Zobrist’s former super utility role.
The issue with Baez to this point is that he has been unable to prove himself at the big league level. Baez has seen just over 300 plate appearances in his big league career over the last two seasons, including less than 100 last season. In those plate appearances, Baez has struck out 119 times, around 35 percent of the time. For a major league player, this is a concerning number. Even so, Baez has a strong glove in the field, as well as lots of potential at the plate. Although only in a utility role, 2016 could end up being a big year for Baez’s development. At only 23 years old, Baez still has time to show not only the Cubs, but all of baseball, what kind of player he can be.
In 2016, Javier Baez could be one of the most interesting players to watch in all of baseball. Despite not being a starter, Baez should still get enough playing time in a super utility role to make an impact on the Cubs season. If the Cubs hope to get back to the playoffs for a second straight season, and finally break the World Series curse, Javier Baez will need to make his impact.