Javier Baez has struggled at the plate this year, though his three-hit game Monday brought his BA, finally, over .200. He’s hitting .205/.246/.365 (32-for-156) with six home runs, his poorest performance since his rookie year.
There was some speculation earlier this year that Javy feeds off the energy of the crowd and that could have been a reason for his lackluster play.
But Monday, Javy revealed a more likely reason — the fact that players can no longer watch video during games, a result of the Astros cheating scandal:
“We didn’t cheat,” Baez said. “We’re not cheating, and we got to pay for all this. It’s tough ... but a lot of players are struggling, too. A lot of stars are struggling, and I’m just one more.
“The way that it is is not the way we play baseball. And I need video to make adjustments and during the game. It doesn’t matter who is there to watch us. It doesn’t matter if we have all the police the MLB wants to send over here.”
He’s not wrong. It’s like the kindergarten punishment where one kid misbehaves and the entire class suffers as a result.
You would think there would be a fairly easy fix — allow players to watch video while being supervised by a MLB monitor. Those monitors were supposed to be in place this season as a result of the Astros scandal, but per Jesse Rogers’ article linked above:
Major League Baseball cracked down on video, and protocols put in place during the coronavirus pandemic all but assured that there would be no way to monitor usage properly. Now players can’t watch their at-bats until after games.
That’s really unfortunate. If a player like Baez says he needs to watch video to make in-game adjustments, he should be able to. Baez claims, as noted above, that he’s not alone in struggling this season.
It might be that we have to get back to some semblance of “normal” before MLB can place proper monitoring in video rooms to ensure no one’s cheating, so that players can make adjustments during games. Emma Baccillieri of SI.com says that it’s possible the league might make this a permanent thing, though:
Although full video rooms and communal terminals are banned, iPads are still allowed in dugouts, and players can use them to watch video. But those tablets are limited to preloaded tape without the ability to access in-game updates. (In other words, a hitter can check out some film from last week to prepare for the next reliever out of the ‘pen, but he can’t review his last plate appearance to see if he needs to make any in-game adjustments.) The fact that MLB has made sure to continue to allow players a way to access some video but not all video—it hints that access to all video probably won’t come back.
I hope that doesn’t happen. You’d think there could be a way to provide players with the video they need — maybe have it available right away on the iPads? — in conjunction with a system that will eliminate the possibility of using it to cheat. Until then, I suppose Javy will have to find some other way to make adjustments.