Fukudome To Leadoff In The Spring Opener; Opening Day Too?


Over the course of the first two weeks of Spring Training, one of the questions that has been on everyone’s mind is who is going to be the Cubs leadoff hitter? At first, many believed that the leadoff hitter would be whoever is the starting second baseman. Meaning it would be Blake DeWitt against right handed pitchers, and Jeff Baker against left handed pitchers. However, if the Cubs lineup for the Cactus League opener tomorrow is any indication, then manager Mike Quade has a different opinion on who should be the leadoff hitter.

Here is the Cubs lineup for tomorrow’s game against the Oakland Athletics…

  1. RF Kosuke Fukudome
  2. SS Starlin Castro
  3. CF Marlon Byrd
  4. 3B Aramis Ramirez
  5. 1B Carlos Pena
  6. LF Alfonso Soriano
  7. C Geovany Soto
  8. 2B Blake DeWitt
  9. SP Carlos Zambrano

Interestingly enough, Mike Quade put Kosuke Fukudome in the lineup in the leadoff spot. This comes to a surprise to me, as I would have expected Tyler Colvin to be in the lineup instead of Fukudome. Here is what Quade had to say about putting Fukudome in the leadoff spot.

"So why is Fukudome batting leadoff with such poor numbers from 2010?Quade said he looked at the “overall numbers” and “the way he finished” last year, along with the number of pitches he sees during each at-bat.“Before we get to Wrigley, I’ll have all that stuff,” he said of the stats. “My sense is just watching him over the years, without doing serious research on exactly what spot (is best), looking at his on-base percentage and so forth… He finished so well last year. Now that you’ve (pointed out the numbers) I’ll have to go in and pull all that up and look at the different spots.“But I tend to look inside the numbers. Was it because of this or that? Did he leadoff a lot when he went through a tough time… There are probably some things I need to look a little further at.” Chicago Breaking Sports"

No offense to Quade, but he must have been blind when he was looking at the numbers of Fukudome int he leadoff spot.  In 2010, Fukudome had 181 at bats int he leadoff spot, the most of any other spot int he lineup. In those 181 at bats, Fukudome hit .193/.313/.298 with 36 strikeouts, and 32 walks. Again, I ask what numbers were Mike Quade looking at when he decided to put Fukudome in the leadoff spot?

Based off Fukudome’s production in each spot, it would make sense if Quade put Fukudome in the #2 spot in the lineup. In 85 at bats as the #2 hitter last season, Fukudome hit .353/.441/.612. That was by far Fukudome’s best production out of any other spot in the lineup. There was not enough of a sample size to determine how Fukudome was in other spots in the lineup, although he did show some success in the 3-5-7-8 spots in the lineup. However, as I already alluded to earlier in the week, Starlin Castro appears to be a lock for the #2 spot in the Cubs lineup.

Another thing I found odd about the Cubs’ Cactus League opener lineup, is where is Tyler Colvin? From what I heard out of general manager Jim Hendry in the off-season, it sounded like Colvin was going to be an everyday player. The only reason I could think of why Quade would not put Colvin in the lineup, would be because he feels the need to have Fukudome in the leadoff spot. But as I pointed out, that should not be the case. This may shed light on how Quade plans to rotate playing time in the outfield. By having Fukudome be the primary leadoff hitter, but at the same time mix and match Colvin in all three outfield spots in order to get his at bats.

Needless to say, I probably am putting too much into a spring training lineup. But, I found it interesting that Fukudome was in the leadoff spot, and Colvin was no where to be seen.