After acquiring veteran outfielder Chris Denorfia on New Year’s Eve, the Chicago Cubs have seemingly replaced the traded Justin Ruggiano – thus adding another name to the outfield mix. So what role will Denorfia have next season? One that should, at the very least, fix some problems last year’s team experienced.
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Chris Coghlan, who appeared in the leadoff spot and left field for the Cubs last season, appears to be a lock for the team’s starting left field job in 2015. However, with his splits showing a clear drop-off against southpaws, Coghlan had one weakness that could have been a minor chink in the team’s armor next year. Denorfia, who is a career .292 hitter against left-handers, proves as an insurance policy against that likelihood.
It’s not that the Cubs lack outfield options heading into next season; the team has the likes of Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler slotted into the other two starting spots alongside Coghlan and Denorfia, and a plethora of back-ups, including Junior Lake, Ryan Sweeney and Matt Szczur, as well. However, veteran leadership that isn’t a waste of roster spot in terms of production on the field was lacking on the club – Denorfia answers that call.
In his career, the former 19th round pick of the Cincinnati Reds, is a career .272/.331/.394 hitter – which includes a .257 mark against right-handers, which compliments the splits showcased by Coghlan, who has hit .282 against right-handers as opposed to .243 against lefties. The combination of Denorfia and Coghlan appear to be perfectly suited to give the team a reliable offensive platoon to go with the increasingly-formidable heart of the order that includes Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Soler.
In order for Chicago to be successful and make a legitimate run at the postseason in 2015, this duo will have to be successful. If Coghlan and Denorfia can average around a .280 mark, that, coupled with a decent showing from Alcantara, will give the Cubs solid production from all three outfield spots. Soler is anticipated to drive in between 70 and 80 runs and if the table-setters such as the left field platoon do their jobs – that number could increase exponentially.
It’s not the flashiest duo in baseball, but if this works out like the numbers indicate, Chicago could have a major – albeit often overlooked – component of a contending team.