Chicago Cubs: What time is it? 3 am, of course.
Philosophy and strategy are important facets of both the modern game of baseball as well as “old school” thinking. I could have gone with the best hitter I didn’t put in my lineup and go with a guy like Grace, Dawson, Cap Anson, Derek Lee or Hack Wilson. It would certainly give me firepower to bring in off the bench in a crucial situation. However, none of these guys really pinch hit a ton because they were everyday players.
I could also go the defensive way and carry a guy like Jason Heyward, Javier Baez, Shawon Dunston, David Ross or even (sorry to say now) Addison Russell. Having one of these guys available off the bench to play Gold Glove-caliber defense would certain make the late innings tough for the other team.
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I could have even gone down a completely different road and carried a burner off the bench to put pressure on the defense and battery in the late innings when somebody gets on, a la Terrance Gore.
As a one game, do-or-die scenario though, I went a different route. I went with a guy who knows his role and can hit in the pinch better than just about anyone. A guy whose own manager nicknamed him “3 AM” because he claimed the guy could hit rolling out of bed at 3 am. Funny enough, hit is all he did when given a chance at a full time spot with the Angels last season. He’ll also be reunited with old skipper Joe Maddon should this 2020 season ever begin.
My last piece to the puzzle is, of course, Tommy La Stella. A guy who can work an at bat and get a hit in any situation, against any pitcher is a nice luxury off the bench, and La Stella is the single season leader in pinch hits in Cubs history (24 in 2018).
So, how would I put all these guys together and construct my lineup- click below: