The Chicago Cubs have struggled to find a replacement for Dexter Fowler atop their lineup so far in 2017. This inconsistency atop the lineup has been a big reason for their 36-34 record through 70 games. In the last week, the Cubs have appeared to find their answer for the leadoff spot from a very unconventional source: Anthony Rizzo.
Heading into Wednesday’s game, in his seven plate appearances leading off for the Cubs, he’s 6 for 6 with three homeruns and a walk, getting on base all seven times. Rizzo’s success atop the lineup has coincided with the Cubs most consistent offensive stretch so far this season. They’ve scored 44 runs in the seven games with Rizzo at the top of the lineup card. The offensive resurgence has also translated to more wins. Over this seven game stretch, the Cubs are 5-2. The way Rizzo has embraced the role as the leadoff hitter has seemingly energized the Cubs and brought them out of their post-World Series malaise that they’ve appeared to have been in so far this season. Moving Rizzo to leadoff might just be what has kickstarted the Cubs run to another division title.
Yet, there continues to be this assumption that having Rizzo in the leadoff spot is only temporary. If it continues to work so well, why is it so bad having one of your best hitters leading off? If it works in Little League, why can’t it work in the Majors? A leadoff batter only technically leads off in the first inning. So Rizzo can still drive in runs if the bottom of the order gets on in front of him, which has been happening since John Jay and Albert Almora, Jr. have been put in the nine spot in the batting order.
Rizzo is clearly the Cubs offensive catalyst, so he needs to remain where a catalyst usually hits first.