Javier Baez, 2B, Chicago Cubs
2017 fWAR: 2.3
2018 fWAR (so far): 3.4
Which position player leads the National League in RBI? If you didn’t say Javy Baez, then I’m not sure what to tell you.
Sure, collecting rib-eye steaks is as dependent on a hitter’s teammates as the hitter himself, but it’s still worth noting his uptick in power. It took Baez 508 plate appearances to slug 23 homers and collect 75 RBI in 2017. So far this year, he already has 19 dingers and 72 RBI through 365 plate appearances. He’s also thrown in a career-high 18 stolen bases for good measure.
Baez’s 3.8% walk rate is still among the lowest in baseball, but he’s paired that with a strikeout rate that’s dropped nearly four percentage points. Although nobody is chasing more balls out of the strike zone than him (48.3%), only Freddie Freeman (83.9%) and Ozzie Albies (82.1%) are swinging at more strikes than the Cubs’ infielder. (81.3%)