By Jacob Kornhauser on May 14, 2014
The Cubs are already well below .500 and have gotten a mix of good and bad starts from their starting lineup. They've gotten their fair share of surprises already in the first six weeks of the season; some have been encouraging future signs while others have been greatly discouraging. Whatever the case, these are the grades the entire starting lineup has earned so far this season.
Bonifacio has been a very pleasant surprise for the Cubs this season, hitting .313 while playing almost every day. He was one of the hottest hitters in the league to start the season, cooled off and has now heated back up as of late. To go with his average, he also already has 11 steals, which has made the Cubs more capable of executing hit and runs.
Year two has been rough on Lake, but he's hung in there and he's having a decent 2014 so far. He's only batting .254, but he has shown a little bit more power potential while playing pretty solid defense in the field. The Cubs would definitely like to see Lake take the next step in his development at some point this season.
His average has slipped to .275, but by being a much more patient hitter at the plate, Rizzo has an OBP of almost .400, which is exactly where the Cubs want him. He also has seven home runs to go along with 21 RBIs and is on pace for a very solid season in Chicago.
Schierholtz, who had a surprisingly solid season for the Cubs last year, has been struggling at the plate all year long. He's batting just .200 without a single home run on the year and is killing his trade value by the day. It looks like he's slowly starting to put it back together, but if he can't get it going by July, the Cubs will not be able to get the package of prospects they hoped to get in return for their veteran outfielder.
Castro has started driving the ball more this season as shown by the fact he leads the team in slugging percentage at .529. He's batting .279, which is still below where he wants to be but is much better than where he was at a season ago. Going back to his old plate approach has paid dividends early and has led to being hit in the cleanup role more in order to capitalize on more RBI chances.
Castillo has batted just .248 this season while steadily improving his defense behind the plate. A big slump has hurt Castillo's overall stats, but since he's gotten back on track, it appears he will be fine. At the same time, the Cubs would like to see a bit more power from their young backstop.
This is a tough one because Olt is batting just .187, but he leads all National League rookies in home runs with eight and RBI with 19. Clearly he's showing that his power is as good as advertised, and now he just needs to stay calm at the plate and take base hits where he can get them as well. Even hitting .250 with 30-plus home runs, Olt would be very productive in the Cubs' offense.
If last season wasn't evidence enough, this season has proven that Darwin Barney flat out can't hit. He's batting .176 on the season and went 3-for-3 the other day to raise his average from the .130s. Any hope the Cubs had of trading Barney is likely gone, and 2014 is likely his last year in Chicago as the team has the likes of Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara ready to come up from the minor leagues very soon.
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