New Chicago Cubs manager David Ross is yet to fill out his lineup card for aa game and he’s already shown he sees this team differently than Joe Maddon.
David Ross has already decided that Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo will bat first and second in the Chicago Cubs lineup more often than not in 2020. Under former manager Joe Maddon, Bryant found himself in the two hole quite a bit and and Rizzo usually hit third, which is OK.
The issue is that Maddon would have guys like Albert Almora or Jason Heyward leading off, which, more often than not, meant the team’s two best hitters came up to start the game with one out and nobody on.
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Bryant is the ideal leadoff hitter in today’s day and age, as he gets on base a lot and has power. The former MVP has hit anywhere from second to fifth in his big league career, and is always willing to do what his team needs him to do.
In an admittedly small seven-game (31 plate appearance) sample size, he hit .321/.387.464 as the leadoff hitter in his career. In 548 plate appearances leading off an inning, he boasts a .916 OPS and .385 on-base percentage.
Rizzo has led off at multiple points in his career. As a leadoff hitter, he carries a .333/.474/.689 line with four home runs. It makes sense to have Bryant lead off, though, since he is the faster (and better) runner of the two and probably has a little more power than Rizzo does. Bryant can walk, and Rizzo can move the line along with another walk or base hit and set the table for guys like Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras.
Rizzo and Bryant have always served as table setters for the Cubs through their winning years, no matter where they hit in the order. When those guys go, the Cubs tend to go as well, and now they can do it at the top of the order.
As I mentioned, Maddon would frequently bat Almora near the top of the order, and he has a career .311 OBP with an 87 wRC+. That profile should be nowhere near the top. Almora claims to have changed his swing, but we’ll see how that impacts his offensive profile this season.
Daniel Descalso had a 42 wRC+ last season, and he was in the leadoff spot for a few games early in the year, but never Bryant. Ross didn’t even need to manage a game to figure out who should be leading off for this team.
Ross also reportedly got upset at a player for not having his uniform on properly, but did not give any names.
The differences between Maddon and Ross are already night and day. Players, mainly Baez, mentioned there wasn’t a whole lot of pre-game preparation last year and Ross is aiming to change that. Maddon is still the greatest manager in Cubs history, he had just run his course, and that was plain to see.
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Placing Bryant and Rizzo in the first two spots of the batting order shows already that Ross is all business and not as laid back as Maddon was. The new Chicago skipper expects a lot out of his players and it’s up to them to answer the call.