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Chicago Cubs: Who could Joe Maddon bat second?

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Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon probably has a good idea of who will bat where for the Cubs – except for who will bat second.  I can understand why he hasn’t answered that question yet.  In my opinion – the second batter may be the most important spot in the lineup.  He is counted on as being the table setter for the big bats in the lineup.   

The ideal second hitter needs to be someone who can move along the lead-off hitter if he gets on.  The ball needs to be put in play somehow so you give the runner a chance to get into scoring position for the power hitters that are following.  Also, if the leadoff hitter doesn’t get on – you need to have a hitter that can get on base, whether that is a hit or walk.

This year for the Cubs have a few candidates that are pretty much guaranteed to be on the Opening Day roster that could fit the role, but there is one that is still on the bubble for the Cubs.

As far as the ones who are set to make the big league squad – I see Chris Coghlan, Starlin Castro, and Arismendy Alcantara as the top suitors for the job.

Coghlan is probably the ideal player for the job out of the other Cubs’ players.  He compliments Dexter Fowler very well by offering very similar skills.  With better than average speed and a good on-base percentage (.352 last season), he offers a very good chance of getting on base or moving the runner along.

Looking deeper into his statistics, it will show that he’s probably the right man for the job.

“At the end of the day, it’s about feeding the RBI guys — who has the knack to drive in points. You would think on the surface guys like [Anthony] Rizzo, [Jorge] Soler and [Kris] Bryant would be classical RBI guys.” Joe Maddon  via chicagocubs.com

He had a 69% of appearances with balls in play with 30% of those being line drives last year for the Cubs.  Another number in his favor is his double play percentage which is only 8%. Coghlan last season did strikeout 18.8% of his plate appearances and only 9.0% walked – that might not be ideal, but his other numbers paint a different picture.

Castro and Alcantara will offer more power – but they are much higher strikeout candidates than Coghlan.  Alcantara granted hasn’t had the experience or opportunities but in his 300 big league at bats he fanned 31% of those appearances.

Castro, on the other hand, has a lower strikeout percentage of 17.6%, but that was in 569 attempts.  Also, Castro grounded into 18 double plays with 113 situations at 16%.

If he continues his success of cutting down the swing and misses – he could be the best option for the Cubs.  He is a great hitter and is a good line-drive hitter.

His advancing of runners stats shows he isn’t the best with only a runner on first base but excellent when they are in scoring position. With that and the strikeout rate – he really is best suited for the clean-up spot or even lower.

Last year he 334 runners on base when at bat – only 51 (15%) of those runners would go on to score that inning.  But with runners in scoring position he would score those runners 47% of the time or move them to at least 60% of those opportunities.

My vote for the second hitter out of anyone in the Cubs organization right now would be Addison Russell.  He has power, speed, he gets on-base, and he puts the barrel of the bat on the ball.  In his minor league career, he has proven to do just that.  With three seasons in the minors, he is a career .300 hitter and a .379 on-base percentage.  In his 1041 at-bats, he has struck out 222 times but only grounded into 21 double plays.

My hope is for Russell to make the Opening Day roster – not only because he can be the best second hitter for the Cubs, but his glove is also ready and needed.

I think Russell is the best option to bat in between Fowler and Anthony Rizzo.  He will get the Cubs on the board early and often with his bat and his athleticism.  Now if he only can convince the front office and Maddon to give him the chance to prove it.

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