jason heyward dexter fowler laugh funnyAlthough Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon has an enormous┬ánumber of realistic and intriguing lineup options available to him, we now know that he’s set up at the top: Dexter Fowler will be his leadoff hitter, and Jason Heyward will bat number two (Muskat, Rogers).

Of course, if you’ve been paying attention at all this spring, you’re completely unsurprised by that revelation. The real questions for the lineup start around the three hole, and I suppose on days when Fowler or Heyward takes a seat.

Given Fowler’s experience in the leadoff spot, and how he did there for the Cubs last year, I don’t think anyone can complain about his placement, even as it means, on a per-game basis, he’ll get more plate appearances than guys like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. Fowler sees tons of pitches, hits from both sides of the plate, gets on base, runs well, makes good decisions, etc. I think he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter.



As for Heyward in the two-hole, there are a few ways to think about it, but in the end, it’s fine. The spot should be held by the team’s best hitter, and, although Heyward has huge offensive upside, there are a few other hitters I’d probably say are expected to be better overall hitters. But it’s all relatively close, and having Heyward’s high OBP up there ahead of the boppers is not the worst thing in the world (plus, that offensive upside, man). Furthermore, although I get a little nervous thinking about Heyward’s extreme groundball tendencies wiping a lead runner off the board, he actually didn’t ground into many double plays last year, despite the huge groundball rate. He’s got good speed and hits the ball hard enough that not too many of his grounders can even turn into double plays unless they happen to be at someone.

If you also start thinking about where Heyward goes if not number two, it’s not a simple thing, especially if you want to go left-right-left-right-left-right as much as possible. To that end, I think you’re probably looking at┬áKris Bryant and Ben Zobrist splitting time in the three-hole, with Anthony Rizzo batting fourth (and the other of Bryant and Zobrist batting fifth, with Kyle Schwarber sixth, when he’s in there).

In the end, I say I like it. Of course, the lineup’s going to be so deep that they’ll score plenty of runs however they’re positioned.






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