The deal was agreed upon before the lockout, so the Tigers, who had also signed Opening Day pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to that point, were dead serious about returning to relevancy.
Baez, a talented hitter, has his fielding as his best calling card.
Tigers fans were treated on Friday afternoon during the game against the AL Central champions, the Chicago White Sox, thanks to a Baez defensive gem.
“Detrot, meet @javy23baez. This is gonna be fun,” the Tigers’ official Twitter account wrote, with a clip with the impressive play.
Detroit, meet @javy23baez.
This is gonna be fun. pic.twitter.com/7E3dA7MptW
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) April 8, 2022
Baez Is An Elite Fielder
All of Baez’s defensive qualities were on display during that play.
First, his range: Andrew Vaughn hit a sharp one-hopper to the hole, but Baez was able to reach it without much issue.
Second, his impressive internal clock: he knows who is running, and acts accordingly: Vaughn is not a burner, and Baez knows that, so he takes a few moments to make sure he makes the play instead of rushing into a bad throw.
And third, his arm: he made an accurate throw to nail the runner: it wasn’t perfect, but good enough.
Baez is an elite fielding shortstop, and the numbers back that up, not to mention the eye test.
Over the course of his career, he has +46 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS).
At the plate, he also does more than good enough: last year, he slashed .265/.319/.494 with 31 home runs and 18 stolen bases.
His plate discipline is less than ideal, but he has power, speed, and elite defense.
Detroit fans are in for a treat.