Anthony Rizzo led off a game for the first time in his career with grand results. Does that mean he should lead off more? Let’s take a look.
That’s right, Anthony Rizzo could very well be the team’s answer. Rizzo went 2-for-4 with three RBI on Tuesday, including a home run to start the game. He followed that up Wednesday with another leadoff homer en route to a 1-for-5 finish.
Kyle Schwarber didn’t work out because he doesn’t put the bat on the ball enough. Rizzo, however, isn’t prone to strikeouts nearly as much as the former. He’s also not playing in his first full season as a big leaguer.
Of course, Rizzo is probably best used as a middle-of-the-order hitter. However since the Cubs can’t seem to catch a break, maybe rolling with him as their no.1 hitter for the time being is the best option. And hey, if it works, why not roll with it?
More qualified than Schwarber
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The pros for having a hitter like Rizzo leading off begins with his low strikeout totals. With only 31 strikeouts through 63 games played, he fits the bill for the typical leadoff man. He also draws his fair share of walks, ranking fifth in all of baseball with 42 free-passes.
Maddon liked Schwarber in the leadoff spot because he felt the best hitters should get the most at-bats in a game. While Schwarber has been clutch in the playoffs, this is his first full season in the bigs, so it’s not surprising he’s struggled. Rizzo however is an established veteran.
Most felt that having Schwarber in the leadoff spot would leave RBIs on the table, as a power hitter like him wouldn’t drive in as many runs. With Rizzo you’d have the same problem, but since Rizzo’s having a much better season than Schwarber the positives may outweigh the negatives.
Cubs leadoff men are batting a combined .216/.314/.451, one of their worst-producing spots in the order. Conventional wisdom says you want Rizzo in the middle of the order, though the stats say otherwise.
The collective OBP of batters 1 and 2 in the lineup is .343. For batters seven through nine, however, (non-pitchers) the OPB is two points higher at .345. Of course, the pitcher’s at-bats bring the latter’s numbers down quite a bit, but it’s still interesting nonetheless.
What about the run-producers?
Some would understandably ask ‘well if Rizzo’s leading off, then who’s batting third?’ Yesterday it was Kris Bryant, so not a bad replacement. Most agree that the best overall hitter should bat third anyway, and that definitely fits Bryant’s bill.
The old saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ The Cubs won big yesterday with Rizzo setting the tone, so if the victories pile up you can bet Maddon will lead him off more often.
The Cubs need wins anyway they can get them. If it takes a power hitter like Rizzo to do it, then so be it.