Javy Baez has entered some elite company in Cubs history
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As the Cubs’ offensive leader in 2018, Javy Baez leads them in traditional categories, including home runs (34; all stats through Monday) and RBI (110), as well as in advanced metrics, including weighted runs created plus (134 to Ben Zobrist’s 126), win probability added (2.66 to Anthony Rizzo’s 2.47) and WAR (5.4 at Fangraphs.com to Zobrist’s 3.6).
Baez is also right there with Ernie Banks on the Cubs’ all-time list in an age-specific category: extra-base hits in a season by a player 25 years old or younger.
In his age-25 season, Baez entered the Cubs’ game Monday with 81 extra-base hits: 34 homers, 38 doubles and nine triples.
Banks set the club record of 82 as a 24-year-old shortstop in 1955, when he had 44 homers, 29 doubles and nine triples.
Only two other Cubs have had 75 or more extra-base hits in a season at 25 or younger. Third baseman Ron Santo had 76 with 33 homers, 30 doubles and 13 triples at 24 in 1964, and third baseman Kris Bryant was 24 when he went for extra bases 77 times with 39 homers, 35 doubles and three triples in 2016.
The Cubs’ record for extra-base hits at any age is 101 by Sammy Sosa at 32 in 2001, followed by Derrek Lee’s 99 at 29 in 1999.
To some extent, extra-base-hit totals reflect their offensive times. Sosa’s club record came in a juiced-offense era in which 26 players had 75 or more. Sosa ranked third in the majors in 2001 behind Barry Bonds (107) and Todd Helton (103).
With a week left in this season, only eight players have 75 or more, and Baez’s 81 rank second to Mookie Betts’ 82. Even if a few of the nine who have 70 to 74 reach 75, the total will be only about half that in Sosa’s day.
Bryant’s 77 two years ago ranked ninth among 12 with 75 or more. In 1955, there were only four at 75-plus. Banks tied Willie Mays and Duke Snider for the major-league lead.
There also were only four when Santo did it in 1964, led by Tony Oliva’s 84. The six seasons from 1963 through 1968 brought only 14 seasons of 75 or more extra-base hits.
As you’d expect, all the 25-or-younger Cubs with at least 75 extra-base hits ranked high among the National League’s WAR leaders.
Banks: With a .942 OPS and 142 wRC+, Banks’ 1955 fWAR was 7.8, second in the NL to Mays’ 9.0.
Santo: Like Banks in 1955, Santo was No. 2 to Mays in 1964 in terms of fWAR (10.5-8.7). By wRC+, it was Mays 172, Rico Carty 165 and Santo 164.
Bryant: The NL’s most valuable player in the Cubs’ World Series championship season, Bryant led the league with a 7.9 fWAR and ranked fourth with 148 wRC+.
Baez: Fourth among NL position players with a 5.4 fWAR, Baez is 15th with his 134 wRC+ and eighth with his 2.66 WPA. He adds value with 3.8 baserunning runs and 3.4 defensive runs. And, at 25, he has joined the extra-base elite.