The Chicago Cubs have been downright anemic offensive so far this season, but this lineup change should spark things.
Entering Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago Cubs have a team batting average of .124. Over the last two games of this week’s series against the Milwaukee Brewers, they totaled two runs on four hits. The Pirates might be a nice cure for their ills.
In six games so far, Cubs manager David Ross has yet to field the exact same 1-8 starting lineup twice. Some of that is just trying to get guys some action, managing day after night game scenarios and matchups. All in all, it’s just not working. Even with only a six-game sample, something needs to change.
This is the lineup change that could spark the Cubs’ offense
Through six games, Cubs shortstop Javier Baez is hitting .136 (3-for-22) with a home run, three RBI and two stolen bases. He has hit sixth in the lineup four times, fourth once and fifth once.
Baez has hit all over the lineup during his career, with a least 239 plate appearances in every spot from 2-8. His high marks for plate appearances are in the fourth (546 plate appearances), second (495) and seventh spots (416). He has 367 career plate appearances in the seventh spot. In 2020, a season in which he struggled, he hit out of the No. 3 spot the most.
Baez’s highest career OPS or OPS+ numbers, in some sort of aggregate, are in the third, fourth, eighth, fifth and sixth spots. In the second spot, his career OPS is .712 with an OPS+ of 83. But in the No. 2 hole, his home run rate his second-highest in any lineup spot (23 home runs in 474 at-bats).
Baez is hitting fourth in Thursday’s lineup against Pittsburgh.
A 2-3-4 of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Baez, in almost any order with some consideration for going right-left-right with Rizzo of course in the middle, looks formidable. There’d be a case for Baez to get a shot in the leadoff spot at times too, based on his success over a small sample hitting there (.286/.321/.510 slash-line over 54 plate appearances).
No matter how it looks day-to-day, Baez should be hitting higher in the Cubs’ lineup. Second, third, fourth, fifth, it doesn’t matter. Getting him into prime lineup spots, with more plate appearances, would be a big step to curing the Cubs’ offensive ills.