With the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant and the leadoff spot? It just isn’t going to work–even with a 60 game schedule.
Will Theo Epstein and the gang finally realize you can’t just plug any random player into the one spot? With the Chicago Cubs, some lessons are hard learned.
It’s been the subject of writers and fans ever the Cubs made Dexter Fowler a low ball, a one year offer, an invitation to leave really. He took the invitation.
The problem was the front office had no clue who was going to fill that “you go; we go” one spot in the batting order. Eighteen games into the fourth season since 2016, and they still don’t have a clue, and they’re again playing leadoff man roulette.
First, it was Kyle Schwarber in 2017. That failed and derailed Kyle’s career for over a year. In 2017 Schwarbs slashed .161/.278/.194 with a .471 in the first AB of game. Overall from the one spot, he slashed .190/.312/.381 with a .693 OPS. He was so awful he was sent to the minors. When he came back, he slashed .273/.368/.667 with a 1.035 OPS out of the five spot.
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A combination of players filled in. Jon Jay (51 games) was barely tolerable in the one spot, but Ben Zobrist (40 games) did well, as did Anthony Rizzo (14 games).
In 2018 Rizzo (31 games) and Zobrist (27 games) again performed very well in the one spot. Daniel Murphy (30 games) did fine as well. Even Albert Almora showed some promise in the one spot.
But in 2019 Murphy was gone, Zobrist left the team, Almora and Descalso struggled in the one spot, Schwarber it was proved, again, couldn’t handle the spot, leaving Rizzo. Then of all the boneheaded moves, they moved a finally hot Jason Heyward to the one spot and that, as they say, was that for Jason.
So, heading into 2020, the fourth season since Fowler left, a shortened season staring them in the face, question marks in the rotation and bullpen, and little margin for error, they pick this season to try yet another experiment for the one spot. Kris Bryant.
No, let’s not try to find a dependable one spot hitter after the fail that was the 2019 season—have not done that, they don’t put the one guy on the roster who has handled that spot well, Anthony Rizzo. No, they decide now is a fine time mess around, again, with the leadoff place.
Out of the one spot, Bryant is slashing .182/.286/.345 with a .631 OPS. First AB of the game? Even worse: .077/.143/.154 with a .297 OPS.
He’s K’d 18 times in the one spot to 10 hits and six walks. You don’t even want to know his slash with RISP. There isn’t also a silver lining in the massive storm cloud that is Bryant at leadoff.
This needs to end. Right now. The Cubs won’t go anywhere with Bryant hitting like this.
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Some have proposed Nico Hoerner for the leadoff. Maybe, one day. Right now, we can’t afford another experiment. There isn’t the luxury of waiting for 30 games to see if the kid can figure it out.
The Cubs need a sure thing. We are one-third of the way through the season. Now is the time for a sure bet, a proven factor. It’s time for Rizzo to bat in the one spot. Yes, it seems unorthodox. But we have the DH in the national league, a runner starting on second in extra innings, seven-inning doubleheaders, and no fans in the stands. I’d say orthodox went out the window a long time ago.