After struggling through a miserable slump prior to the All-Star Break, Chicago Cubs first baseman is finding his rhythm as the team’s leadoff hitter.
In a bold move, similar to one he made last season, Joe Maddon inserted Anthony Rizzo into the leadoff spot. Since then, the Chicago Cubs first baseman seemingly found his groove at the plate and looks more and more like the slugger of old.
Following the Chicago Cubs series with the San Francisco Giants, Anthony Rizzo was left looking for answers. Rizzo only played in two of the three games and didn’t record a hit. He went 0-for-10 with three strikeouts and one walk.
At the end of the series with the Giants, Rizzo was hitting a mere .236 with an on-base percentage of only .333 on the season. Looking to shake things up, Maddon put his slugger in the leadoff spot against the San Diego Padres.
Side note. This has happened before.
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Maddon has done this with Rizzo on two other occasions and it has paid off. Last season, the slugger found himself in a similar slump and in his first game as the leadoff hitter he hit a home run in his first at-bat against the New York Mets.
Maddon made the call again earlier this season and Rizzo rewarded the Cubs with a leadoff home run against the Colorado Rockies.
Rizzo didn’t lead off with a bang against the Padres like he had done in the past but he did go 3-for-5 at the plate with two doubles. Due to his success in the leadoff spot, Rizzo has spent the last eight games at the top of the Cubs batting order.
In his eight at-bats to lead off games, he has posted a batting average of .667 and on-base percentage of .750. He’s set the table for the Cubs with four hits, two of which were extra-base hits while scoring two runs.
Aside from just leading off for the Cubs, Rizzo has been performing much better overall at the plate over this eight-game span. He has gone 15-27 with five doubles and a triple while working eight walks. He hit .556 at the plate and posted an outstanding on-base percentage of .658.
That means over the course of the last week, Rizzo has upped his batting average from .236 to .262 and his on-base percentage from .333 to .365. That’s an impressive feat for anyone to accomplish over just eight games.
Should Rizzo stay in the leadoff spot?
This move was made by Maddon primarily to break Rizzo out of his slump, which was more than successful. Looking forward the question becomes whether or not this move will or should be permanent.
Rizzo certainly looks comfortable in the leadoff spot and the numbers speak for themselves. The Cubs as a team have also performed well with Rizzo atop the lineup, winning six of their last eight games. Not to mention the Cubs boast a deep lineup and have other options such as Javier Baez, Willson Contreras or Kyle Schwarber to bat third or cleanup.
If Maddon keeps him in the leadoff spot and Rizzo continues to produce I could see him leaving him there for the time being. But ultimately I believe this move won’t be long-term and Rizzo will be back hitting No. 3 or No. 4 in the Cubs lineup.