Projecting the Opening Day lineup for the Chicago Cubs
Projecting the Opening Day lineup for the Chicago Cubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Cubs are going to be a much-different team when they take the diamond this spring, but it’s never too early to ask how their lineup will look on Opening Day.
Who will be the lead-off hitter? Who will start at third base? Where will star signing Dansby Swanson fit in?
Here’s our best guess at David Ross’ lineup when the Cubs take on the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on March 30.
Nico Hoerner 2B
If there is a player that can make contact in any situation, it’s Hoerner, and he may be the Cubs’ best option to serve as a lead-off hitter at this point. He posted a .327 on-base percentage, and he struck out just 57 times in 481 at-bats. He also drew 28 walks and stole 20 bases while hitting .281, all of which point to him as a good option at the top of the lineup.
The Cubs signed Dansby Swanson with the idea of kicking Hoerner over to second base, but one wouldn’t be shocked if he were tried at third base with the question marks surrounding that position for the team.
Dansby Swanson SS
The Cubs needed a jolt of offense added to their lineup, and they’re hoping Swanson can provide it, as he would have tied for the team lead in home runs, led the team easily in RBI’s and finished with the second-best batting average on the 2022 version of the club.
Having Swanson and Happ in the middle of the order should be a nice boost for the Cubs.
Ian Happ LF
Happ is coming off arguably the most complete season he’s had in his career, making the All-Star Game for the first time while slashing .271/.342/.440 for the Cubs. He hit 17 home runs, and while that was well short of his career high, he did boost his batting average by 45 points and even bumped up his slugging percentage slightly.
On a team struggling for power, you have to find a place for Wisdom in the lineup, and designated hitter seems like a great fit. He did post an on-base percentage of nearly .300, with 53 walks to his credit, but he did strike out 183 times while hitting 25 home runs for the Cubs.
Seiya Suzuki RF
Suzuki took some time to adjust to big-league pitching last year, but he maintained relatively steady production according to his first and second-half splits. His on-base percentage of .336 was third on the Cubs among qualifying batters.
Trey Mancini 1B
Yes, Mancini struggled badly down the stretch with the Houston Astros last season, but he still managed to hit 18 home runs and drive in 63 RBI’s in 519 at-bats. He also posted an on-base percentage of .319 even with his struggles at the plate, and he drew 53 walks.
There’s no sugarcoating it: Bellinger had a rough season at the plate in 2022, with his 19 home runs being more than offset by his paltry .210 batting average and the 150 strikeouts he racked up in just 504 at-bats.
That being said, his glove makes him a worthy inclusion in the lineup, and the Cubs are hoping that they can help Bellinger to once again find the form that made him the 2019 National League MVP.
There are at least four different options at third base right now for the Cubs, but we’ll give McKinstry the narrow edge right now because of his glove. His .206 batting average and .272 on-base percentage surely aren’t going to turn any heads, but when compared to some of the other options, he may hold the edge over Christopher Morel and Nick Madrigal.
The Cubs really emphasized defense with their offseason signings, and Barnhart definitely qualifies. His .221 batting average and .287 on-base percentage aren’t going to blow anyone always, and when you consider he had one home run last season, compared to the 22 that Willson Contreras put up, this isn’t going to be the strongest offensive position on the diamond for the Cubs.
The Cubs could easily decide to start Christopher Morel or Nick Madrigal at third base, and Eric Hosmer could slot in at first base depending on matchups, but the defensive lineup is roughly set for the first game of the season.
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