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Javier Baez Out for Season with Thumb Injury; Cubs’ World Series Odds Drop to +2500

Javier Baez closeup
Does Javier Baez's fractured thumb spell doom for the Cubs' World Series hopes? Photo by Arturo Pardavila III (Flickr) CC License .
  • The Chicago Cubs announced that Javier Baez’s hand injury will end his regular season
  • There is hope that Baez could be ready for the playoffs
  • Chicago’s 2019 World Series odds have fallen; are they a value play or too far gone?

Just add Javier Baez’s thumb injury to the list for the Chicago Cubs. Craig Kimbrel’s stint on the Injured List will likely last a few more days. Addison Russell is still in concussion protocol after getting hit in the head.

And now? Baez’s thumb fracture means he’ll miss the September push.

While he could be ready for the playoffs, the Cubs have to get there first, and their chances to even reach the playoffs aren’t the lock that they once were.

World Series Odds for National League Contenders

Team Record GB Wild Card Odd per Bovada Odds per BetOnline
Los Angeles Dodgers 94-52 N/A +275 +300
Atlanta Braves 90-56 N/A +700 +800
St. Louis Cardinals 81-63 N/A +1100 +1200
Washington Nationals 79-64 +2.5 +1800 +1600
Chicago Cubs 77-67 0.0 +2500 +2500
Milwaukee Brewers 76-68 1.0 +6000 +6600
Philadelphia Phillies 75-69 2.0 +5000 +4000
Arizona Diamondbacks 75-70 2.5 +6000 +10000
New York Mets 74-70 3.0 +6000 +4000
San Francisco Giants 70-75 7.5 +50000 +25000

*Odds taken 09/11/2019

**Records prior to games on 09/11/2019

Over at SBD’s World Series odds tracker, the Cubs’ struggles are well-documented.

Slipping into a battle for the second Wild Card spot, the Cubs’ average odds have gone from +1600 (August 18) to +2575. The Cardinals, who were +2500 at the same time, have improved to +1200.

The Nationals, who lead the Cubs in the Wild Card race, moved to +1750 from +2200. Things could get even bleaker without Baez.

No Quick Fix Without Javier Baez

No one hopes for injuries, but it helps the Cubs’ cause that the Brewers just lost Christian Yelich to a fractured kneecap.

While the Cubs lost their MVP candidate, it’s a crushing blow to the team hot on their heels. With just one game separating them, the Yelich injury offers the Cubs a bit of a cushion for the final Wild Card spot.

Christian Yelich vs Javier Baez


.329 Average .281
44 Home Runs 28
97 RBI 85
.429 OPB .316
.671 SLG% .532
7.1 WAR 4.8

Although the Cubs will hate to lose Baez’s bat, they’ll miss his defense just as much.

Chicago’s most versatile player (sorry, Ben Zobrist) has spent his entire season at shortstop. Of the 15 players with 1000+ innings at short, Baez has committed the 11th-most errors. Where he recoups that value is in Defensive Runs Saved, where he’s third with 15.

He’s second in FanGraphs’ Defensive Runs Above Average, sliding in at 15.4. With Baez missing the rest of the regular season, Chicago needs reinforcements.

Cubs Need Big Bats of Russell and Contreras

The hope is that Addison Russell won’t be missing much more time.

After a scary incident where he was hit in the head by a pitch, Russell is still in concussion protocol. His season has been mostly an afterthought, however. He started it with a 40-game suspension, and was sidelined by a puzzling foot injury in July.

Addison Russell’s Career Comparison

2015-18* .242 16 70 .313 .392 3.0
2019 .227 9 23 .303 .389 0.0

*162 game averages.

If Russell can bump his production back up to his career norm when he returns, it’ll help Chicago in the Wild Card race.

Contreras Since Returning from IL

4 .375 2 3 .444 .875 1.319

Since coming off the Injured List, Willson Contreras has been hitting well. And now with Baez gone, he needs to keep it going down the stretch.

If Russell improves and Contreras maintains his pace, anything Chicago gets out of rookie Nico Hoerner is a bonus.

Where Chicago Cubs Stand in World Series Picture

Once they sort out what’s going on with Craig Kimbrel, Chicago will be in a better position, so long as he’s the August version of Kimbrel and not the one who imploded September 1st.

The lack of a guarantee surrounding Baez is troubling. If he comes back, he’s still an imposing presence. But hand injuries are tricky to overcome, and cold October temperatures won’t help.

As it stands, the Cubs are fighting an uphill battle. Home-field advantage for the Wild Card game is becoming a pipe dream. Even if they make it, they’re coming face-to-face with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, or Patrick Corbin.

They could get through that one game. But with the Dodgers looming after that, Chicago is now nothing more than a longshot in the National League.

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