The Cubs Opening Day lineup was leaked on twitter by DOM Frederic via Rob Willer who saw it on the big board in right field at Wrigley Field today. Although the last few Spring Training games hinted at what the Opening Day lineup would be, we're still going to dive into the starting nine. Here is my breakdown of the Cubs lineup against Chad Kuhl and the Pirates on Thursday.
Center Field – Ian Happ
No need for an explanation here. Ian Happ is our lead-off hitter for 2021 barring anything crazy. David Ross confirmed Happ's spot very early in Spring Training.
Catcher – Willson Contreras
Now this is a tough decision, but I think Willson Contreras is the best fit for the #2 spot. His hitting to all fields approach leaves the door open for a hit and run opportunity and ability to advance a runner for the Cubs' other run producers. He also has as much power as anyone on the team, so he can also drive in runs from this spot as well.
First Base – Anthony Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo has been the definition of consistent when it comes to driving in runs. He is the guy that you want at the plate in high leverage situations with runners on base. Plus, he's the captain, and the epitome of a face of the franchise. He's perfect for the third spot.
Third Base – Kris Bryant
If you watched the Cubs in 2020, you'd be surprised to know that Kris Bryant somehow hit over .200, or at least I was. He is poised for a bounce back season in 2021, especially if he wants to get paid. This also keeps the Cubs in a nice pattern, switching from lefty to righty hitters to avoid being too one-sided, which the Cubs have been in recent years.
Left Field – Joc Pederson
This keeps the left-right mix up going, even though I personally would have had Javier Baez here. That said, Joc Pederson has power, flat out, and can really provide some much needed protection for KB. Joc will also benefit from KB's outstanding on-base ability and superior base running.
Shortstop – Javier Baez
Much like KB, Javier Baez performed poorly in 2020, so you know he is motivated to bounce back in 2021. We all know that at his peak, Javy is an MVP caliber player, and he has experience in all spots in the order. It's not surprising to see him in the six-spot even though I would have him up one spot.
Right Field – Jason Heyward
Anything he can provide at the plate is a bonus. He had a really nice 2020 and hit LHP pretty well. If he can mimic what he did in 2020, he is going to really help roll the lineup over to the big hitters at the top of the lineup.
Second Base – David Bote
I expected to see Nico Hoerner manning second base on Opening Day this year, but I am not disappointed at all to have Bote there instead. The nine-spot is where Bote fits into this lineup, but he is not an ideal eight-hitter. His abilities lend itself more into the five-to-seven spots, but the Cubs don't have any room for him up there. He book ends a lineup that has legit power throughout, but he is prone to striking out. Lots of strikeouts isn't ideal for the eight-spot because that leads to more scenarios where the pitcher is leading off an inning or at the plate with two outs.
Pitcher – Kyle Hendricks
Maybe he can hit his first career homer, but other than that he should not be hitting. It is time to make the designated hitter universal, but until then this is what we're stuck with.
The wait is over Cubs fans! Is there a better way to begin the year than with a 1:20 start at home before the weekend starts? Absolutely not.