#2: Who makes the lineup go?
“You go, we go,” is now a mere memory.
Dexter Fowler excelled as the Chicago Cubs’ leadoff man.
His run production and on-base percentage were crucial to the team’s success. But now, the role of leadoff hitter is wide open. And it must be filled by the right person.
Sure, you only truly lead off a game once, but the feeling a pitcher gets when the lineup turns over can be intimidating. The middle of the Cubs’ lineup is as daunting as some of the most significant lineups in baseball history.
The opportunity to set the table for Bryant and Rizzo cannot be understated. And, while the former batted second much of last year, dropping to third or (preferably) fourth could lead to massive offensive numbers for the team.
Who’s the Cubs’ best option?
There are three true candidates to leadoff.
Much of the talk focused around Schwarber in this slot can be attributed to his ability to make contact and hit the ball with power. Of his contact numbers, only 15.2 percent of all contact ranked as “soft.”
He hits two-seam fastballs, sinkers and sliders well; therefore, hitting at the top shouldn’t be an issue. That being said, his speed (or lack there of) may hold up the line.
The other two candidates bring more experience to the table in Zobrist and Jay. Both have above average on-base percentages in their respective careers. While Jay has better numbers in the leadoff position than Zobrist, he excels in the middle of the order, hitting for .347/.390/.583 split when slotted fifth. Most of his career, Jay batted second with great success.
For me, the lineup should look like this: Zobrist, Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo, Jay, Russell, Heyward, Pitcher, Contreras. But that is just me.