It’s time to relieve Happ of his leadoff duties
I really wanted things to work out for Ian Happ. In his first full season, he was looking to take the next step towards becoming a force in the lineup. But alas, it didn’t work. At least lot from the leadoff spot. After having a ridiculous spring training, he was set to open up as the centerfielder and leadoff man. And on the first pitch if the season? He crushed a sold shot to right field. It looked like we had found our guy.
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Fast forward 15 games, and that’s apparently not the case. In fact, the last two leadoff men in Happ and Kyle Schwarber? 25 strikeouts for Happ, 17 for Schwarber. Yikes.
If Happ were putting the ball in play, moving runners, etc.? He’d be alright. And they always say, “you only lead off once.” But Happ has struck out almost 47 percent of his plate appearances. Needless to say, we need a change.
Who do you turn to?
First, let me get to the meat of it. Albert Almora. Everyone wanted him to be the guy, but he wasn’t–at least according to spring training numbers. So maybe now it’s his time?
Let’s pump the brakes a bit on Almora. He’s hitting .231 against righties (3-for-13), and .313 against lefties (5-for-16). While it’s clear that Almora is never going to terrorize right-handed pitching, he can get better (we hope).
Ben Zobrist is the most likely candidate for the role. But he has his back issues. So I propose a plan to figure this out by the trade deadline, or go and get someone for it. The Cubs need to run out Almora against right-handers, Zobrist against lefties. Now, how often Zobrist and his back will allow him to go is a big part of that. Once the weather warms up, it shouldn’t be as big an issue for him. But if this should fail, let’s hope we aren’t too late to get a leadoff man.