WOW: Kris Bryant Offered to Lead Off This Year for the Cubs, and He's Likely Gonna Get a Shot (UPDATE: It's Happening)

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WOW: Kris Bryant Offered to Lead Off This Year for the Cubs, and He’s Likely Gonna Get a Shot (UPDATE: It’s Happening)

Chicago Cubs

For the most part, lineup discussions are absolutely tortured and overhyped, but when it comes to the Cubs’ leadoff spot – the bane of their offensive existence since Dexter Fowler departed – it remains a very important discussion.

And I kinda love the direction that discussion took this morning:

In a lineup complete with absolutely no obvious leadoff hitters, Bryant has always made on-paper sense for the job: he sees a lot of pitches, he gets on base, he runs the bases well, and – most critically – he’s one of the Cubs’ best overall hitters. Why wouldn’t you want him getting the most plate appearances on your team?

The catch has been whether Bryant would want (and thrive in) the job, and whether you could optimize slightly more by having someone else up there and keeping Bryant in the 2/3/4 range. For example, by having Anthony Rizzo – already very successful as a leadoff man – at the top of the order.

But in a world where pitchers will have to face at least three batters (or end the inning), it becomes all the more important to alternate your lefties and righties, and with Bryant at one, pulling that off becomes quite a bit more easy.

In fact, the only possible hesitation I have about it is that Bryant, unlike Rizzo, has not yet been put into the position and demonstrated that it doesn’t impact his game whatsoever. We know that when Rizzo leads off, he’s just Rizzo. So it works well. We don’t yet know for sure that Bryant won’t be one of those guys for whom there’s just that tiny bit of a mental trap to being “the leadoff guy.” We’ve seen it before. It’s not a knock on guys like Kyle Schwarber or Jason Heyward – it’s just that the role did not put them in the best position, individually, to succeed (which, in turn means it wasn’t good for the team, either).

That said, we don’t have any reason to believe a polished, professional, disciplined hitter like Bryant couldn’t be just fine in the leadoff role, and *really truly accept* that no one is asking him to change his game. He has offered to take the job. He sounds like he really wants the job. So I say go for it!

How about something like …

1. Bryant, 3B

2. Rizzo, 1B

3. Báez, SS

4. Schwarber, LF

5. Contreras, C

6. Heyward, RF

7. Bote, 2B (platoon)

8. Happ, CF (or 9th if you prefer)

9. Pitcher

Heck, the ability to have Javy Báez batting third in a setup like this might be my favorite part. You want him up there with guys on base as often as possible, but you don’t necessarily want to have to rely on him for OBP. Batting third behind Bryant and Rizzo? Yeah, he’ll have a lot of guys on base.

I like this. I like it a lot. STRAP IT ON.

UPDATE: It’s happening:

And it sounds like the ideal combo at the top is happening, too:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.