The Chicago Cubs scored 613 runs during the 2012 MLB season. The Miami Marlins and Houston Astros were the only teams who scored fewer runs. Some of those failures came from their lack of production toward the top of their lineup. When leadoff hitters get on base, the Cubs must drive them home more often.
Who will leadoff in 2013? For the second consecutive season, David DeJesus should earn that honor against right-handed pitchers. In 2012, 448 of his 506 at-bats came as the leadoff hitter. While DeJesus rarely steals bases, he had a .365 on-base percentage (OBP) against right-handed pitchers. In 3,039 career at-bats against right-handed pitchers, DeJesus has a .367 OBP.
Nate Schierholtz is another player who can challenge for at-bats as either the leadoff hitter or, more realistically, the No. 2 hitter. In 2012, Schierholtz had 178 at-bats against right-handed pitchers. He had a .360 OBP with a .287 batting average. However, in 33 at-bats as the leadoff hitter, Schierholtz had a .270 OBP with a .182 batting average.
DeJesus and Schierholtz both struggle against left-handed pitchers. In 94 at-bats, DeJesus had a .289 OBP with a .149 batting average. In 63 at-bats, Schierholtz had a .206 OBP with a .175 batting average. What happens with that kind of production at the top of the lineup? Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano won’t hit much more than solo homers.
Dave Sappelt and Tony Campana will likely compete for the fifth and final outfielder spot. Whoever wins that job may get the opportunity to leadoff against left-handed pitchers. In 55 career at-bats against left-handed pitchers, Sappelt has a .410 OBP with a .345 batting average. Nine of his 19 hits were extra-base hits.
Is there anyone on this team who can step up against southpaws? It’ll help them increase that win total from 61.