Former NL MVP Kris Bryant continues to rack up the hits – now sparking the Chicago Cubs offense as the club’s newest leadoff hitter.
Stop me if you’re heard this before. Looking to add a new spark to his offense, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon taps a guy to lead off – usually for the first time in his career. Sound familiar?
Once again, Maddon pressed the right buttons this weekend, inserting third baseman Kris Bryant atop the lineup card against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The slugger, mired in a three-week homeless streak, seems right at home there.
On Friday, Bryant collected three hits (all singles) in a win over the Bucs. Although he went hitless on Saturday, he drew a walk and was hit by a pitch – coming around to score the first run of the game. Could this a permanent home for the Chicago third baseman?
"“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know,” Maddon told MLB.com Saturday. “He does such a great job of getting on base. I like where Jason Heyward is right now [batting second]. You can hit [Ben Zobrist] anywhere. I honestly don’t know [about Bryant]. I’m playing it by feel on this one and will try to determine the right thing to do on a daily basis.”"
Maddon pushing the right buttons
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
While his power has seemingly evaporated, Bryant continues to get on base at a well above league average clip (.455 in his last seven games). Not to mention, he’s hitting .380 over the last week. In short, he makes a perfect candidate to lead off.
As Carrie Muskat pointed out, Cubs leadoff hitters are batting just under .290 this season. We’ve seen all kinds of options employed – from Ian Happ to Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras. And, somehow, Maddon always seems to pick the right guy at the right time.
(Except for maybe Happ, who was downright awful as the leadoff man).
The power numbers lacking from Bryant’s game of late have raised eyebrows among far too many fans. And, sure, you’d like to see him popping homers every few days, but the simple truth is this: he’s getting on at an elite rate – making him perfect to set the table for a team that’s on a roll.
With Heyward tearing up opposing pitching in the two-hole and Anthony Rizzo swinging a bat hotter than pretty much anyone in the league, the top of the Cubs’ order represents a real threat to opposing staffs.
And, at least for the time being, it all starts with one of the best all-around hitters in baseball: Kris Bryant.