With the year coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is looking back on the top moments from the 2019 Cubs season.
They don’t call Javier Báez “El Mago” for nothing. Whether on the bases, in the field or at the plate, the Cubs shortstop seemingly makes a highlight reel play every game.
There are many phenomenal Báez plays to choose from, but here are some of the best ‘Javy being Javy’ moments from last season:
-Deking out the Dodgers: Báez reached deep into his magic hat on April 23 against the Dodgers. The 27-year-old hit a slow, soft-hit chopper to Dodgers first baseman David Freese, who fielded the ball falling to his left.
Freese had Báez dead to rights a few feet from first base, but Báez slammed on the brakes, making a quick juke move to his left to evade Freese’s tag. He dove into first safely, having pulled off an NFL-worthy move that left Freese bewildered.
-Smooth sliding: Even on a routine play, Báez finds a way to add his signature swag.
On May 9 vs. the Marlins, Báez advanced from first to third on a single into right field from Kyle Schwarber. He made it to third with ease but finished the play with an elegant, smooth slide into the bag.
Smoothest slide you’ll see today. pic.twitter.com/eZPZRD3Diq— Cut4 (@Cut4) May 9, 2019
Is there any player more fun to watch than Báez?
-Keeping it 100 in the clutch: Báez picked a great moment to launch career home run No. 100.
On June 23, the Cubs trailed the Mets 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Báez stepped up with two runners on and one out, uncorking a three-run blast into right field, his 100th career long ball. The drive put the Cubs ahead 5-3 — the game’s final score — thanks to Báez's flair for the dramatic.
-Eyes in the back of his head: Báez and his patented lightning-quick tags on defense happen so frequently, they’re expected from him. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate those great plays when they happen.
On July 20, the Cubs led the Padres 6-5 in the ninth inning. Padres outfielder Wil Myers drew a leadoff walk off Craig Kimbrel, and after a failed bunt attempt for the first out, he took off for second base. Myers appeared to have the bag stolen, or so it appeared.
Báez ran to the first base side of second, catching the throw from catcher Victor Caratini and simultaneously swiping a quick, no-look tag at Myers’ left foot. Myers was ruled out on the field and after a Padres’ challenge, and the Cubs held on for the win.
Watch the video above to witness El Mago conduct his magic.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.