It's not that easy: Javy dazzles with grab, arm

August 15th, 2020

CHICAGO -- paid Cleveland's Francisco Lindor the ultimate compliment earlier this week, calling him the best overall shortstop in the game. Still, the Cubs' talented shortstop quickly added a qualifier.

In the third inning of Friday's 4-3 loss to the Brewers, Báez showed what he meant with another jaw-dropping play in the field. The magician's latest trick was throwing Milwaukee's Manny Piña out -- from left field.

Piña led off the third by chopping a pitch from Cubs righty Alec Mills deep into the hole between third base and shortstop. Báez was positioned deep, but the skipping baseball took him a few steps into the outfield grass by the time he got a glove on it. Báez gathered himself, set and fired across the diamond to first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

According to Statcast, Báez threw the ball 158 feet in order to get the out, beating Piña by a step as he hustled up the first-base line. Rizzo could be seen smirking in Báez's direction after the completion of the highlight-reel play.

Shortstop Ed Howard, the Cubs' first-round pick in the MLB Draft earlier this year, was on MLB Network during the broadcast at the moment Báez made the play. Howard then broke down what he saw for viewers at home.

"Man, a backhand play deep in the hole," Howard told MLB Network's Harold Reynolds. "That's a strong arm right there. Honestly, he just has fun with it. He's so smooth. He makes it look so easy. That's just Javy doing what Javy does right there, honestly. You can't teach that. You've just got to do it. That's special, too."

As a pitch-to-contact starter, Mills has benefited from a handful of Báez plays already this season. The righty was wowed again on Friday night.

"Yeah, that was unbelievable," Mills said. "He was very much into left field. I mean, that was probably a 150-foot throw. I don't know the exact metrics on it, but he was way out there. Each and every time I pitch, they play great defense behind me, which is awesome for me."

Báez led all MLB infielders with 19 outs above average last season, but the shortstop has yet to pick up a Gold Glove Award in his career. Now in his second season as Chicago's everyday shortstop -- following bouncing between second base and that spot -- Báez says capturing gold for his defense is a goal.

"For sure," Báez said earlier this week. "We'll see. We'll see what happens in the next few years and with this season, and this situation. But, yeah, for sure, I'm working on my defense much of the time. Hopefully I get at least one."