Chicago Cubs may be forced to turn to the world’s greatest leadoff hitter
By Jake Misener
Without a clear-cut leadoff hitter, first-year manager David Ross may turn to Anthony Rizzo atop the Chicago Cubs lineup when the season opens in March.
Even with the rumored addition of veteran Steven Souza Jr., the Cubs still lack an answer when it comes to the long-standing leadoff question. Since Dexter Fowler left for St. Louis after helping Chicago end a century-plus title drought, the team has been looking for a solution, trying an array of names as the table setter.
So far, really only two guys have found success in the role. The first, veteran Ben Zobrist, faces a future that is still very unclear moving forward. The two-time World Series champion missed most of the 2019 campaign while dealing with family issues off the field. But he returned and did what he’s always done – gave manager Joe Maddon nothing but gritty, professional at-bats.
Zobrist turned in a .377 on-base percentage over the season’s final month – but it was not enough as Chicago faded down the stretch, finishing third in the division race. Now, there’s no guarantee the team doesn’t bring him back for one more go-round, but until they move some money (perhaps in a Kris Bryant trade) – it seems unlikely.
The other guy who’s found consistent success atop the order? First baseman Anthony Rizzo. Of course, it’s never ideal when you’re trotting out your power-hitting first corner infielder as your leadoff hitter. But that’s what it’s come down to far too often in recent years – and I wouldn’t rule out a return to that role again in 2020.