Inbox: Leadoff spot a conundrum for Cubs
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers fans' questions
The leadoff man is the focus of the latest Cubs Inbox.
I think the Cubs need a more prototypical leadoff batter. Your leadoff hitter should not strike out often and should have the speed to steal a base. The Cubs have some options for batting leadoff, none prototypical. Why don't the Cubs steal more? Will they trade for a prototypical leadoff man?
-- Patrick R., Denver
They don't have that type of player currently on the 25-man roster, unless Bobby Dernier makes a comeback. And they definitely don't have any speed, currently ranking 14th in the National League with 26 steals, ahead of the Mets (22).
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Can manager Joe Maddon possibly put Javier Baez at leadoff? This would lead to him getting on base in front of Anthony Rizzo and Kristopher Bryant, and they could do some damage.
-- Grant B., Chicago
You're assuming that if Baez is leading off, he'll automatically get on base. Baez has a .295 on-base percentage and ranks fourth on the team in strikeouts with 68 in 78 games. He's batting .256 and has a .313 BABIP. Javy isn't the right fit for that role.
Do you think Kyle Schwarber will return to the leadoff spot after the All-Star break? He's looked pretty solid since he came back from Triple-A Iowa. Or is he best hitting No. 5 behind Ian Happ?
-- Nathan K., Pardeeville, Wis.
When Schwarber returned, Maddon said he wanted to watch him before deciding whether to insert him back in the leadoff spot. In four games so far, Schwarber is 4-for-14 with one home run. It's still early. It might be best to keep him lower in the order for now.
Are the Cubs missing William Fowler, David Ross, Jason Hammel and Travis Wood more than we thought?
-- Wendall S., Byron Center, Mich.
I miss having all four around the clubhouse. The team misses Fowler in the lineup the most because Maddon hasn't found a steady replacement in the leadoff spot.
It seems the Cubs hit a large amount of their home runs with no one on base and leave more than their share of runners in scoring position. I'm curious where they rank in these two categories.
-- George W., Lisle, Ill.
Of the Cubs' 117 home runs, they've hit 74 with no one on base, fourth highest in the NL behind the Mets (89), Brewers (83) and Reds (79). The Cubs are batting .230 with runners in scoring position (14th in the NL).