The Cubs' new leadoff hitter is the team's former No. 3 hitter: Anthony Rizzo.
Rizzo was on David Kaplan's radio show on ESPN 1000 Tuesday morning and said he is leading off in Tuesday's game against the New York Mets:
Wow! Anthony Rizzo just told us on @ESPN1000 that he is hitting lead off tonight against the NY Mets.— David Kaplan (@thekapman) June 13, 2017
Anthony Rizzo told us he has been lobbying Joe Maddon to move him into the lead off spot. @espn1000.— David Kaplan (@thekapman) June 13, 2017
The Cubs released the lineup a few hours later and Rizzo is, indeed, leading off:
The Cubs have been searching for stability in the leadoff spot all season, as the Kyle Schwarber experiment has not worked out atop the order.
Ben Zobrist was moved into the leadoff spot when Schwarber was bumped down, but Joe Maddon would prefer to have Zobrist provide protection to Rizzo and Kris Bryant in the middle of the order.
Rookie Ian Happ was then moved atop the order, but after a blazing start, he's hit just .143 with a .238 on-base percentage over his last 19 games (63 plate appearances).
Jay spent the last two games leading off but Maddon also likes deploying the veteran outfielder off the bench. Plus, every start Jay makes means either Happ or Schwarber are on the bench and Maddon wants to keep giving those young guys opportunities to bust out of their slumps.
Rizzo has never led off in his career, but did campaign for a chance to lead off in spring training 2015.
From strictly an OBP perspective, Rizzo makes sense as the leadoff hitter, as he currently sports a .390 on-base percentage despite only a .249 average. He is on pace for 105 walks and only 80 strikeouts.
The Cubs' offensive woes are not just related to the leadoff spot. They're last in baseball with a .214 batting average with runners in scoring position, eight points lower than the next closest team (Cleveland Indians - .222). The MLB average with RISP is .258.