Although Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon has an enormous number 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.
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 Kris 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.