The Chicago Cubs have struggled all year with finding a leadoff hitter. Jason Heyward was the latest experiment, and it has not worked out.
The Chicago Cubs have yet to figure out the leadoff role since 2016. The past three years they have not had a true leadoff guy, and it has shown. The Cubs are at the bottom of the league this season in leadoff productivity.
The first one is the trade for the red-hot bat, Nicholas Castellanos. This gave Maddon the flexibility to be able to move Heyward around in the lineup. Castellanos has been on fire with the Cubs batting in the two spot, and you don’t want to change anything if it’s working.
Albert Almora, who going into the season was the overwhelming pick to leadoff has struggled this season, against left-handed pitching. Which is the current reason he is in Triple-A now.
Ben Zobrist has been away from the team since May 9th dealing with personal issues. Zobrist is another guy that Maddon loved putting at the top of the lineup because of his veteran presence in that spot.
He is a guy that will give you a professional at-bat every time, and that’s something you look for in a leadoff guy. It was reported on Friday that Zobrist would be back with the team on Sunday and Maddon has said that Zobrist will give some at-bats at leadoff. Zobrist coming back is something that should excite every Cubs fan.
Overall, Heyward has been outstanding this year. Without a doubt the best year of being with the Cubs. After three pretty underwhelming years, it was nice to see Heyward get back to the player Cubs fans thought he was when we signed him.
The numbers when Heyward is not leading off are .296/.376/.478 in 92 games. Then in the leadoff spot, it’s .167/.264/.342 in 29 games. Those are some significant differences in being at the top of the lineup and not. The exciting thing is the Chicago Cubs are 20-9 in games when Heyward leads off games. The numbers show that he has struggled to bat leadoff, but the team is winning when he does.
There is no real answer to the lead-off question because Maddon has tried everything he can with what he has. But the numbers show that Heyward has struggled in the spot so it might be time to move him down in the lineup.