Would R&R Be Better Than ASG for Willson Contreras, Javy Báez?
This probably isn’t going to be received well by most fans out there, but please feel free to leave Javy Báez and Willson Contreras off your All-Star ballot. Yes, you read that correctly. I know what you’re going to say, and you’re right: Those guys should start at shortstop and catcher for the National League in the 2019 Midsummer Classic on July 9. I’m with you, they should.
Báez has been even better than a year ago when he finished as the MVP runner-up, already putting up 2.9 fWAR halfway through the season. He has 19 home runs, 52 runs, 52 RBI, and a 123 wRC+, all while being magical (Wednesday’s transfer boot notwithstanding) in the field at shortstop this season.
Contreras has been even better than El Mago offensively, buoyed by his scorching hot (.400/.464/1.040) last couple weeks, and at times seems like the only Cub interested in consistently smacking the ball around. He’s the best offensive catcher in baseball to this point, posting a 146 wRC+ and 2.6 fWAR. He is hitting an even .300 with 17 home runs and 48 RBI…all while catching.
Of course, Baseball Prospectus will tell you that he’s barely a top 10 catcher since he doesn’t frame well. Take that for what it’s worth.
Like I said, there’s really no argument to made against either player in this matter. However, I left off one statistic for each that is more important than any others in terms of their value to the Cubs in the second half: 78 and 69. That’s the number of games each has played out of the Cubs’ 80 total, with Báez obviously racking up the higher total.
We saw what happened to Contreras late last season and the team can’t afford something similar from either in August and September, especially considering both play premium defensive positions that put a lot of wear and tear on the body.
And given the way things tanked offensively for the whole ball club down the stretch last summer, not to mention how the Cubs have looked over the last couple weeks, a little break might be exactly what they need. So rather than heading to the banks of Lake Erie, maybe Javy and WillCo should hop on a plane to a tropical island and sip drinks out of a coconut shell for a couple days in early July.
So, while I’m not seriously suggesting you leave Báez and Contreras be left off your All-Star ballot, I am positing that it might actually be more beneficial for them (and the Cubs as a team) to get off their feet for a couple days. Because unless the Brewers continue to bring the curve down, the Cubs aren’t going to win the division by playing C+ baseball every day.
Of course, Cleveland is like an even less exciting version of St. Louis, so maybe getting elected will result in more rest after all.