We haven't had a good argument about Javier Baez lately but now is a good time to do so.
Because the Chicago Cubs infielder has just passed a milestone: he now has 164 games in the major leagues over the last three seasons, meaning we can look at his production in seasonal notation as we argue.
In those 164 games, Baez is hitting .241/.287/.406 with 26 doubles, 21 homers, 15 steals in 20 attempts, 29 walks, and 179 strikeouts. This was accomplished at the age of 21-23. He has a career fWAr of 1.9 and a wRC+ of 113.
Of course, there's a sharp difference between the Baez of 2014 (.169/.227/.324 in 213 at-bats) and the Baez of 2016 (.287/.327/.474 in 251 at-bats). His strikeout rate is much lower nowadays (22.6% compared to 41.5%) and he's done that while actually improving his isolated power production.
So let's discuss Baez. Points to consider:
A) Looking at just the aggregate 164 games and NOT the 2014 or 2016 breakdowns, how would you project Baez going forward? Put another way, what would you think of Baez if the aggregate numbers had been produced over one entire season rather than in parts of three?
B) Ignore 2014 and 2015. Look just at 2016. How would you project Baez if he had spent 2014 and 2015 in the minors, but came up this year and hit .287/.327/.474 in his first 251 at-bats?
C) Getting away from the numbers and thinking more subjectively, and talking specifically to Cubs fans or anyone else who has seen Baez play on a frequent basis, what do you think of the adjustments he's made this year?
D) Finally, assuming Baez suffers no serious injuries and plays 10 or more years as a major league regular, what's his slash line, in his career? In his peak season?