Cubs 2012 Roster Outlook: Tony Campana

By Andrew Fisher

In only 95 games last season, Tony Campana finished 28th in the league with 24 stolen bases. With a full season in 2012, he figures to easily crack the top 10 and establish himself as one of the league’s elite base stealers.

So what else will Tony Campana bring to the table for the Cubs? It seems unlikely he will be a starter, with Soriano, Byrd, and DeJesus being the early favorites to fill the outfield starter roles. Campana will definitely see lots of late inning action, most likely in left for Soriano. Tony also figures to get more starts this year, but how many, will certainly depend his improvement at the plate.

Tony Campana is an All-Star level talent when it comes to defense and base stealing, but when it comes to hitting, you see why he started last season in the minors. From what I did see of him last season at the plate, I definitely think he has potential to develop into a good contact hitter. He seems to have a good eye for the ball and it doesn’t seem like he’s overthinking up there. Just by getting more at bats, and experience, he should raise his average significantly, from last years .259.

The objective is simple for Campana, just put it in play. The catch, nothing in Major League Baseball is simple. I don’t care if Campana bunts half the time, if he puts the ball in play, he has a chance to get on base. I’ve seen Campana beat out a ball he hit to second base, if you can beat out a ball hit to second, you can beat out anything.

He has to get on base, I don’t care how, just get there. The entire game changes once Tony Campana is at first. The pitcher and catcher both go on high alert, and the whole defensive strategy must change. The good thing for the Cubs, even if Campana gets a bad jump, he can still steal on any catcher in the league.

It’s not often a guy this fast comes along, and especially not in Chicago. I will still argue the Cubs haven’t had a true leadoff man since Kenny Lofton in 2003. It’s a role all the good teams fill, and the Cubs haven’t done it in awhile. When Campana does start, he needs to be in the leadoff spot.

So what can you realistically expect from Tony Campana in 2012? I’d say more of the same from last year, I don’t see any reason, if healthy, that he doesn’t get into 130 games plus. When you have wheels, you get put into games late, to either boost the defense, or to pinch run. Campana figures to do a bunch of that, plus depending on how much he improves at the dish, he could start every 3rd or 4th day. There’s no question that Tony is already a fan favorite in Chicago, and I hope that with improved play, he earns respect from the rest of the league as well.

Follow Andrew Fisher on Twitter @the_realfish

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