When discussing his unconventional lineup choices, Joe Maddon had this to say, "It's almost a backwards way of doing this right now that I'm finding fascinating.....So I'm just gonna let it play for just a little bit and see where it takes us."
And it is hard to blame Maddon for letting his experiment ride out longer.
Via our Chris Kamka, Rizzo has hit in the leadoff spot seven times this season. In those seven plate appearances he has a single, double, triple (July 21), home run, walk, hit by pitch and a groundout. Rizzo’s numbers as a leadoff hitter are staggering:
With his lead off triple today, Anthony Rizzo is hitting .588 with a .667 OBP when he leads off a game for the Cubs in his career (top or bottom of the first). He's slugging 1.529 with a 2.196 OPS. https://t.co/tMLvCWCi1R— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) July 21, 2018
And it appears the Cubs agree.
So you are essentially saying he is the greatest leadoff hitter of all time and arguing otherwise is a fruitless endeavor.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 21, 2018
After their 7-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, Ben Zobrist joked that Rizzo is the “self proclaimed greatest leadoff hitter...”. And while on paper, having Zobrist bat fourth in the order and Rizzo lead off seems contradictory, the move has definitely energized the offense. Immediately following all the lineup shuffling, the Cubs reeled off four straight wins before the Cardinals 18-run, 18-hit explosion, but even in that game Rizzo did draw a base by HBP.
And sure enough, in Saturday’s game, there was Rizzo, dominating to the tune of three walks and a triple. There is no telling if Maddon will continue to keep him in the leadoff spot. The move was originally made to help Rizzo get his groove back, which if Saturday’s win was any indication, he has.
But with Jason Heyward having a great offensive season, Jesse Chavez looking good in his Cubs debut (two clean innings with one strikeout) and Baez continuing his MVP-like play, Cubs fans should be as optimistic as one certain fan at Wrigley Field.
Cubs win!!!!— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 21, 2018
7-2 final score
Jesse Chavez was solid in two clean innings of work in his Cubs debut. 11 hits total for Chicago, including Baez and Zobrist combining to go 7-for-8 with 2 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Time to celebrate.... pic.twitter.com/1hTocLMpY4