Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

chris coghlan cubsPresumably in recognition of his protracted slump, and perhaps in an effort to shake it off, Dexter Fowler is moving down in the order tonight – all the way down to the seven spot, where he’ll bat in front of famously hitless Jon Lester. Given Fowler’s elite plate discipline (he’s one of the best in baseball at swinging at strikes and not swinging at balls), you wonder if this move will generate extra walks for Fowler. That’s not the worst outcome in the world, though adding base runners in front of Lester hasn’t worked out well so far this year.

The other half of the lineup shift, of course, is the man moving into the leadoff spot, about whom I wrote this in this morning’s Series Preview:

Oh, remember that part where you thought I was rhetorically asking “who isn’t [slumping] on offense?” It wasn’t rhetorical. The answer is Chris Coghlan, who is hitting .325/.464/.468 over the past month. Is it reactionary to say he should probably be leading off for the Cubs? Maybe a little. But only a little.

I guess we can change that to “not reactionary at all.” Coghlan might not have the speed you look for in a leadoff man, but he certainly has the discipline, the general base-running skill, and overall quality offensive output you want to see at the top of the order. I like this move.

The switch is particularly interesting in light of today’s earlier discussion about where the Cubs could make offensive upgrades, and how the outfield could be the place for another bat, at least to rotate into the mix. I don’t yet want to see Fowler losing a lot of playing time – I still think he’s likely to rebound offensively, given the long track record and recently-low BABIP – but I think today’s lineup shift is an acknowledgement that, yes, the production issues have been noticed.

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