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Chicago Cubs: How the batting order may look

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When the Cubs acquired Dexter Fowler, they answered a few questions that were still being asked after the winter meetings.  Who was going to be the everyday center fielder, and who will bat in the leadoff spot of the batting order? With those questions answered, its time to look at where the rest of the batting order and what might produce the best chances for winning.

Manager Joe Maddon has stated in interviews that he has toyed with the idea of batting the pitcher in the eighth spot in the batting order, a tactic Tony LaRussa made a part of his game plan while with St. Louis. It was a strategy that seemed to have some merit to it. LaRussa thought would lead to better scoring options-to have a legitimate hitter batting ninth to possibly keep an inning going and maybe score an extra run.

I think the strategy will only be used for certain pitchers or against certain teams. When you have someone like Travis Wood pitching in the game, you really don’t lose anything with him batting ninth with his ability to drive the ball but not all pitchers can swing the bat like him.  One thing Dale Sveum pushed, and I’m hoping will also be a practice done by Maddon is having the pitchers work on their bunting.  For someone like Jon Lester who has never recorded a hit in his limited at bats, it would probably be a good idea to have that option open.

Now with Fowler batting lead off, the key for him will be to get on base and try to get into scoring position for Anthony Rizzo who will probably be taking his usual spot of third in the batting order. With that, who bats second will be key and it will be essential to have someone up there who can make contact with the ball and put it in play somewhere and not swing and miss.  This is where Maddon may count out Starlin Castro to start, where he still seems to swing freely even though he did improve slightly last year with his discipline.

Chris Coghlan would make a smart and safe second batter in the lineup.  He adds a lot of similarities to Fowler so even when Fowler isn’t able to get on base you have basically another shot at getting the same type player on base for Rizzo to drive in or put in scoring position.

Rizzo has already established himself as our best and most dangerous hitter, so leaving him at the third spot is academic. Castro seemed to have some comfort and success with the fourth spot in the line up but I’m not sure he should get too comfortable in that spot. There are a couple of new options that might be more enticing for Maddon to look at.  Jorge Soler will now be an everyday player and his bat will score runs for this team, if not by home runs than with his line drive power and speed getting doubles and the occasional triple.

The Cubs biggest option will be when Kris Bryant finally gets his Cubs uniform on.  With Bryant’s power that he has shown at all professional levels, its hard not to imagine him batting fourth. When this happens, Maddon may flirt with the idea of batting Castro second if he has continued to show some plate discipline but also with his history of getting line drive hits.

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Miguel Montero I’m sure will fall in place at the seventh spot.  He will had some pop at the bottom of the line up especially if he can regain his swing that he had a couple of seasons ago with Arizona.  If that can happen, he will add the consistent bat from the catcher that the Cubs haven’t seen since Geovany Soto‘s rookie season.

This is where we may see some different names depending on who is pitching for us and who the Cubs are playing. While Javier Baez probably will start the season in Triple A, I’m sure this will allow Arismendy Alcantara who may be cover second base for the time being.  Alcantara flashed some signs of pop and some ability to slap the ball into the outfield but also showed a lack of plate discipline and struck out a fair amount.

Mike Olt also could be another name that you see in the line up depending on how long before we see Bryant and also to fill in for left field.  Junior Lake is another name that I’d like to see have more of a roll with the team.  He has patients at the plate and some good pop, I think the lack of playing time only hurts him though.

The potential for this line up has all of us Cubs fans excited.  When you have a potential line up of Rizzo, Bryant, Soler, and Castro batting third to sixth, that’s a lot of power and a lot of runs that can be scored. If Baez can get his strikeouts down and finds himself in the lineup, you might see him in the second spot making this one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball.

Next: Castro not ranked in Top 10 shortstops

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