Cubs batting Anthony Rizzo first makes zero sense

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

With spring training games underway, baseball is being played, fans are back and life is good. The Chicago Cubs are back after winning the division last year and so far this spring, things are looking up, save for one small problem.

As I sat down to watch the Cubs take on the Seattle Mariners a few days ago, the name Anthony Rizzo atop the lineup card caught my eye. This was not Rizzo’s first time hitting leadoff and although I understand it’s only a spring training game, I had hoped this bad idea would have left with the old manager.

Look, I understand the arguments in favor of putting Rizzo in the first spot in the lineup. However, I don’t agree with them. Does he get on base? Yes. Does he get more at-bats? Yes. Does one of your best hitters get more looks with runners in scoring position? No.

More from Cubbies Crib

For a team with more questions than answers in its lineup, this logic makes little sense.  I understand if the Cubs had lineup depth to rival that of say the Dodgers or Yankees, but they don’t.

Last season Rizzo was fourth on the Cubs in terms of OBP and ranked third on the team in slugging. The players who outperformed him last year in terms of OBP were Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Wilson Contreras with Happ and Heyward also besting him in slugging percentage.

One could argue that Happ or Heyward should occupy the central spots in the lineup and that is a fair line of thinking considering they posted better slugging numbers however it fails to consider an element that can be a game-changer at the top of the lineup – speed.

Cubs know Ian Happ will lead off, so let’s cement Rizzo in a smarter role

Both Heyward and Happ are far quicker than Rizzo. I’m not arguing that we need a true base thief, but at least have a player that can go  first to third or advance aggressively on passed balls. Both Heyward and Happ fit this bill far more than Rizzo.

For years, the Cubs first baseman has shown his ability to be a steady presence in the heart of the order. That role suits him perfectly, so why have any other look – even in spring action? The answer to this question is a loose end to a far denser knot: the Chicago front office, like many in the game, are idealistic thinkers who overlook a simple pragmatic solution because it doesn’t conform with the governing ideology. It’s en vogue to have your star slugger lead off, rather than leaving him banished in the third or fourth spot like some archaic baseball thinker.

dark. Next. Cubs miss out again, this time on pitcher Jake Odorizzi

This is a rather simple objection I have as a Cubs fan. It is an objection to which I believe speaks to a greater problem with the team and the current state of the game. As usual when I speak of problems considering teams that I am a fan of I hope that I am proved wrong.