If the Cubs plan on contending for a World Series title, acquiring a true leadoff hitter is a must.
Up to this point, it’s still a mystery as to why Theo Epstein and the Cubs have not acquired a traditional leadoff hitter since the departure of Dexter Fowler in the 2016 offseason.
To all the nonbelievers and those who say, “just throw the hottest hitter at the top of the order,” let’s take a look at the impact of Mookie Betts in the 2020 World Series.
Betts in Dodgers World Series Wins: (4 games) 7-for-18 5 R 3 RBI
Betts in Dodgers World Series Losses: (2 games) 0-for-8
You don’t have to be an expert to look at those numbers and determine Betts’ importance in the leadoff spot for the Dodgers.
Since losing Fowler, the Cubs have tried various leadoff experiments that just haven’t worked out. The latest guinea pig this past season was Kris Bryant.
Bryant as 1st Batter of Game: (16 games) .067 BA .258 OPS 0 BB 5 SO
There’s no telling how long David Ross would’ve kept the former MVP in the leadoff spot, but fortunately and unfortunately, injuries kept Bryant out of the lineup and made way for Ian Happ.
Happ had arguably his best season at the major-league level and proved to have value as a leadoff man.
Happ as 1st Batter of Game: (37 games) .273 BA 1.079 OPS 4 HR 4 RBI 4 BB 9 SO
Putting Happ in the leadoff spot in 2021 might not be the worst thing, but the way I see it, if the Cubs got a leadoff man, they can move Happ in the middle of the order where his ability to drive in runs is more valuable.
Will a true leadoff hitter fix all the issues the Cubs offense had this past season? Absolutely not, but it would definitely be a start.