Scouts are going to have to re-write their reports on how to attack Javy Báez. In 2018, pitchers opted for high fastballs in the zone because the free-swinging slugger would whiff at them frequently. The probability of Javy swinging through heaters just under his chest was between 30-40% last season.
But so far in 2019, Javy is making more contact against similarly located fastballs. The probability that Javy will whiffs on those pitches has been slashed nearly in half and now sits from 15-25%. That, folks, is what we call a successful adjustment.
One reason Javy could be whiffing less against these fastballs is a willingness to hit towards the opposite field. In 2018, Javy would go to the opposite field only against outside pitches. That’s not surprising because most right-handed hitters do the same.
But this season, Javy is spraying inside heat to right field much more frequently. You see that hot spot on the left side of the zone map below? This means Javy is going to right field most of the time against inside heat, which is actually pretty wild.
Javy Báez is freakishly talented, but he’s also possesses one of the highest baseball IQs you’ll find. The best hitters on the planet translate talent to production by identifying and fixing holes in their game, and Javy mitigated that weakness against high heat by focusing on spraying fastballs to the opposite field.
Now just imagine what happens as he continues to address remaining holes in similar fashion.