Javier Baez

9 years ago today, Javier Báez began a new era of Cubs baseball with one swing

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While former Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Báez is in his second year in Detroit and perhaps yearning for the statistical success of his days on the North Side, Cubs' fans can take a moment on Saturday to look back on and appreciate the moment El Mago arrived in the big leagues with a bang.

Holding a 47-63 record entering their Aug. 5, 2014 game in Denver against the also fledgling Colorado Rockies, all eyes during the game were on Báez, who was making his long-awaited MLB debut after spending the previous several seasons as perhaps the Cubs' most prized prospect.

Báez was the game's starting second baseman, and was placed second in the lineup by manager Rick Renteria.

The night got off to a tough start for Javy, striking out swinging in his first career at-bat before recording two more strikeouts, a groundout and a lineout in what was a back-and-forth battle between the two clubs near the bottom of the league's standings.

Despite both an 0-for-5 start and the Cubs taking a one-run lead in the top of the 11th inning, a two-out game-tying single from Colorado's Charlie Culberson in the bottom half of the frame forced yet another inning, setting the table for Báez to lead off the inning.

El Mago wasted no time taking flight.

Holding the throne as the first of several major prospects in the Cubs' organization to earn the big-league callup, Báez's long ball both won the game for the North Siders while giving fans a little taste of what was to come.

While Báez finished 2014 with a ghastly .169/.227/.324 slash line, the versatile infielder would go on to play a vital role in the Cubs' curse-breaking 2016 championship, sharing NLCS MVP honors while going deep in Game 7 of that year's World Series.

Following the title, Báez emerged as a star in the league, totaling two All-Star appearances while finishing as the NL MVP runner-up in 2018, a year in which Javy hit 34 home runs, stole 20 bases and won a Silver Slugger.

After being traded to the New York Mets in 2021 alongside pitcher Trevor Williams in exchange for current Cubs' top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong, Báez signed a six-year deal worth $140 million with the Detroit Tigers prior to the 2022 season.

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