In the Cubs Sunday 6-2 win over the Indians, Alfonso Soriano blasted his sixth homerun of the spring in an effort that saw the 36 year-old go 1-for-3 with three RBIs. While the individual effort was great, Soriano’s performance did nothing to solve the Cubs pressing problem of finding a leadoff man.
Tried earlier this spring, it seems that Soriano is the only player not in the mix to earn leadoff role honors.
In contention for the job is David DeJesus, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro and maybe even Blake DeWitt. Finding the leadoff man between those four will be no easy task. The Cubs simply do not have a stereotypical player to hit at the top of the order.
Coming into camp it seemed clear that DeJesus would leadoff, but the lefty has struggled this spring.
DeJesus, who only has eight hits this spring, is posting numbers not fit for a leadoff hitter. While DeJesus is still viewed as the front-runner to leadoff on opening day, his stats are less than stellar.
In 15 games this spring DeJesus has batted .195 with a .298 on-base percentage and has struck out 10 times, posing a huge problem – who else can fill the leadoff role?
The second name to come into mind in the leadoff battle is Darwin Barney who will be entering just his second full year in the big leagues.
Fresh off his first full season with the team, Barney saw action in 143 games where he hit for a .276 batting average and a .313 on-base percentage. The numbers do not jump off the page, but Barney could provide a safe option atop the order.
Barney, however, boasts numbers this spring to spark an argument for the second baseman, hitting a DeJusus trumping .379.
Starlin Castro, who has hit third most of spring, seems to be a stretch. Sveum has made it clear - he wants to give Castro more at-bats further down in the order, in other words, AB’s with more RBI opportunities. But, Castro is batting a measly .192 with runners in scoring position. Suggesting perhaps he is more fit for a leadoff role.
Blake DeWitt is another name thrown into the discussion. While Sveum has been open in saying he is impressed with DeWitt’s productivity, the infielder has yet to lock an everyday spot on the depth-chart.
David DeJesus entered camp as the clear front-runner but, a lackluster spring has proved the lefty is perhaps not the Cubs best option.
With this said, most feel it will still be DeJesus appearing in the leadoff spot on opening day, regardless of atypical leadoff numbers. Nonetheless, look for the leadoff spot being somewhat of a revolving door both in the last games of spring and in the season.