For the last two seasons, Chicago Cubs outfielder Tony Campana has been a controversial topic among fans of the team. Many viewpoints exist on how Campana can—or can’t help this team. Those opinions range from using him as a leadoff hitter to keeping him at Triple-A Iowa.
How has Campana performed? In 317 career MLB at-bats, Campana has a .306 on-base percentage (OBP). He has been successful on 54 of his 59 steal attempts. That’s a success rate of 91.5 percent. He has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 73-to-19. Despite his speed, Campana has never hit a triple but he did hit an inside-the-park homer in 2011.
The Cubs need speed in their lineup and outfield, and Campana gives them that. Unfortunately, he doesn’t offer much else. His poor OBP prevents him from being an everyday lead-off hitter. He’s not good enough to maximize his potential at-bats. While Campana has good defensive range, he can’t throw out runners who attempt to score.
What about using Campana toward the bottom of the order? The problem with using him as the No. 8 hitter is that the pitcher would bunt Campana over to second base. That eliminates his speed. Manager Dale Sveum doesn’t have the credibility to use Campana as an extra leadoff hitter at No. 9, a move that Tony La Russa was known for.
Campana must add another element to his game – preferably, an increase to his OBP. If Campana can’t do that, then his career won’t get beyond that of a late-inning pinch runner who can steal a few wins toward the end of close games. With the addition of Scott Hairston, Campana may not even make the roster.
Another factor that could come into effect is Michael Bourn. The longer that Bourn stays in free agency, the more his price tag will decline. At some point, the Cubs should enter those sweepstakes, and offer him something like a three-year, $40 million contract.