Javy Baéz has been, largely, a disappointment for the disappointing Detroit Tigers. The stats are pretty irrefutable and the general vibe has been lacking since he donned the Olde English D over his electric frame. But, and this is going to be some extremely unscientific analysis here, the man is the consummate entertainer and makes it easy for fans to love him.
Baez just ripped a two-run home run in the series finale agains the Chicago White Sox. Then he told heckling, jeering fans that he'd gotten all of it. He stood, as he's done all weekend, like Russell Crowe in Gladiator, delighting in the sadness and hate emanating on the South Side and asking if the angry masses is they are entertained.
Baez collected a hit and an RBI on Thursday night and two hits and two RBIs on Friday night. After each knock, he basked in the boos and asked the Guaranteed Rate masses to bring it on. Because he can handle it. More specifically, because he thrives on it.
The Baez experience has been maddening. And spinning a .615 OPS is a job for the Baghdad Bobs out there. All things equal, I and most other Tiger fans are wishing the Carlos Correa ship would have come into port. Yet there's something so alluring about watch this guy play the villain.
It's been a forgettable summer in Detroit, with the Tigers limping out to a second consecutive abysmal start and essentially getting hit with the plague in the injury department. Baez and the other free agents who were supposed to help the franchise take the next step have been underwhelming. With each passing episode, though, I cannot help but find myself falling into deep appreciation for a shortstop who knows he has unlimited potential and never blinks.
Few players have ever been able to operate in this headspace and the injection of life and energy has coincided with a six-game win streak. It's a mountain to climb yet these Tigers don't feel like the old Tigers. They feel different and full of life. Full of screw you. Full of themselves, yes, but that is a good thing now
I'd run through a brick wall for Baez because of how he plays the game, not necessarily how well he plays it. To channel that volume at all times, to move with warranted cockiness, and to play with an edge.
Damn that's alluring.