Detroit Tigers: Javier Báez needs to up his plate discipline immensely

(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Detroit Tigers have been abysmal as of late. The team’s offense has plummeted and just struggled to do much of anything. This past offseason, things were looking up, and the Tigers appeared to be a brand new ball club, but they look horrible thus far.

One of the Detroit Tigers’ most significant moves this offseason was bringing in their answer for the hole at shortstop. Signing Javier Báez to a six-year, $140 million contract was their way of really trying to start competing.

Báez has his strengths and weaknesses, but right now, his weakness in the batters’ box is starting to overpower some of the exciting and flashy defensive skills that he shows. Báez has been downright horrendous in the batters’ box regarding swing decisions.

In a recent Tigers contest against the Minnesota Twins, Bally Sports put up a graphic showing that Báez chases 47% of the offspeed pitches he sees. This was an alarming number to read, implying that he nearly swings at half of the offspeed pitches NOT in the strike zone. Horrifying.

Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez has to improve plate discipline.

This graphic got me thinking, thinking beyond his .201/.241/.321 slash line with 36 punchouts over 134 at-bats. There is room to improve, plenty of room. For a $24 million a year player, his standards have to be way above where he is performing.

Looking at the MLB Swing Profile on Baseball Savant, Báez is rough. I’m not in a big league front office or calling pitches against Báez, but it’s pretty clear what the pitch plan should be. Looking at his whiff % chart, it’s pretty easy to see that any sort of breaking pitch low and out is going to fool him.

While the numbers show this, anyone who has watched Tigers baseball this summer has seen Báez swing and miss on this pitch many times. Not to mention, every swing he takes looks like he is trying to hit the ball 900 feet to left field.

A better job driving the baseball, focusing less on being the home run hero paired with better swing decisions, should benefit his slash line and performance in the batters’ box. With Báez whiffing on 40.8% of the total pitches he has seen in 2022, there’s a lot of room to improve.

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Báez needs to be better; that’s the bottom line. With the contract that the Tigers gave him, there’s a lot of room for him to improve and be better overall.