When the Chicago Cubs lost Dexter Fowler in the offseason, the team was left searching for a leadoff hitter. Now, two weeks into Spring Training, the Cubs have their man.
Throughout the offseason, many began speculating who the Chicago Cubs would deploy as their leadoff hitter. For the past two seasons, the Cubs were set at that position. Dexter Fowler was the perfect fit, thanks to his on-base prowess. Now that Fowler has signed elsewhere, the Cubs needed a new leadoff hitter.
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The Cubs have several viable options with Ben Zobrist being the most obvious choice. Zobrist is no stranger to batting leadoff, having 614 career at-bats.
His career slash-line is .238/.330/.376 in the leadoff spot. Despite him being the obvious choice, Zobrist hasn’t had a ton of success in the leadoff spot.
Another option would be new outfielder Jon Jay. While he could be a leadoff hitter, he is not going to be in the lineup everyday. His primary role will be a platoon player in the outfield, but he could leadoff when he is in the lineup.
Muskat also tweeted the Cubs will be cautious with Schwarber to not aggravate his surgically-repaired knee. Maddon also said that Zobrist can lead off when Schwarber doesn’t play and that he is leaning toward batting the pitcher eighth, as he did in 2015
Last season, Schwarber became a Cubs’ legend in the postseason after returning from a season-long injury. Despite his mere eight career at-bats from the leadoff spot, his strong on-base approach make him a logical choice.
Schwarber is Cubs’ best option
Obviously, Schwarber isn’t the prototypical leadoff hitter, but this move might be the best option for the Cubs. If the Cubs bat Almora/Jay ninth, then there is an opportunity for Schwarber to bat with men on base. In addition, a lineup with Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to start a game is a pretty dangerous lineup.
On the contrary, Schwarber is a guy who hit a lot of home runs and batting him leadoff could mean a lot of solo home runs, rather than with men on-base. But only time will tell.
Right now, the Cubs seem poised to start the year with Schwarber as their leadoff hitter. We know Maddon won’t be afraid to make a change during the season if that doesn’t work. Either way, the top of the Cubs’ lineup will be very dangerous and teams could find themselves down 1-0 on a regular basis with Schwarber at the top.