CHICAGO – When the Cubs were struggling last year, they made a decision that was a bit unusual when it came to the top of their lineup.
Joe Maddon put first baseman Anthony Rizzo – who usually bats in the third or fourth in the lineup – was inserted into the leadoff role on June 13 against the Mets at Citi Field just a day after getting just a single run in a loss.
Rizzo provided the much-needed spark from the start, leading off the game with a homer in a 14-3 Cubs victory over New York.
In 2018, with his hitters in a bit of a funk, the manager is going to try it again.
On Tuesday, the Cubs have put Rizzo into the leadoff spot for their game against the Rockies this evening at Wrigley Field. It’s the first time this season that the first baseman is in that part of the lineup, having batted third in the order nine times and fourth nine times.
The moves comes after the Cubs have failed to score more than three runs in their last six games. Strong pitching has bailed them out the last week as the team is 5-1 during the stretch of slow run production. It may also be a boost to Rizzo as well, who is batting just .149 on the season and has only one hit in the Cubs’ last five games.
Moving the first baseman up to first could be the trick for both if Rizzo can repeat his success from 2017 in the leadoff spot. In 14 games he hit .300 with five homers and 12 RBI, and helped to jump-start a Cubs’ team that struggled most of the first half of the season.
Perhaps Rizzo’s move to the top will prove to be the magic touch for the offense in 2018.