Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Trying to Guess the Cubs 2023 Opening Day Lineup

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I know, I know, spring training is still several weeks away let alone Opening Day, but what the hell, it’s never a bad time to have a debate about something we have no control over. And well, we’re talking about the Cubs lineup, so why not get our practice in early to get ready to complain about David Ross’ starting nine against the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day.



When it comes to talking about Cubs lineups, the biggest question going since they won the World Series in 2017, is who’s going to be the leadoff guy? We’re going to be entering year seven since Dexter Fowler was the main fixture atop the Cubs lineup and despite several free agent signings this offseason, there really isn’t a clear answer to lead off, right now anyway.

My first attempt at trying to come up with the starting lineup is inspired by what Ross has already said about a few guys on the team. The Cubs manager didn’t really give out any specific details, but here’s a summary of what he did say during the Cubs Convention last week.

  • Potential leadoff options: Ian Happ, Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson, Nick Madrigal
  • Seiya Suzuki fits better in the middle of the lineup
  • Cody Bellinger fits better in the middle of the lineup

I’d say about a decade ago, Nico Hoerner would be the automatic choice to be the leadoff guy. Speedy runner, can steal bases, makes a lot of contact and hits for a high average, but we now we really do know the importance of having high OBP guys at the top of a lineup. This isn’t to say that Hoerner, who has a career .333 OBP, can’t improve in that department, but I think he fits better as the team’s No. 2 hitter.

Ross brought up Swanson’s ability to mash fastballs and how leadoff hitters see those pitchers more often than other batters, but do the Cubs really want one of their run-producers leading off? As for Nick Madrigal, there’s no guarantee he’s even on the Opening Day roster, so he’s not really in the picture for me. That leaves Ian Happ, who has been the leadoff guy in the past, posting mostly mixed results.

As always, numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but it is compelling that in 2022, the most consistent season of his career, Happ batted mostly third or fourth in the lineup and was never in the leadoff spot starting a game. We’ve seen in prior years how solid players overthink things at the plate when they’re batting in different positions, especially leading off, and Ross even discussed how Suzuki would be an ideal two-hole hitter, but because Suzuki has a traditional view of what a player hitting second should be, that it could take away from Suzuki’s strengths as a hitter.

So, here’s what I think the Cubs Opening Day lineup could look like.

SS – Dansby Swanson
2B – Nico Hoerner
LF – Ian Happ
RF – Seiya Suzuki
CF – Cody Bellinger
DH – Trey Mancini
1B – Eric Hosmer/Matt Mervis
C – Yan Gomes/Tucker Barnhart
3B – Christopher Morel

OR
LF – Ian Happ
2B – Nico Hoerner
SS – Dansby Swanson
CF- Cody Bellinger
RF – Seiya Suzuki
DH – Trey Mancini
1B – Eric Hosmer/Matt Mervis
C – Yan Gomes/Tucker Barnhart
3B – Christopher Morel

The only thing I’m set on is having Hoerner batting second and then the bottom third of the lineup. Obviously, there are going to be several different looks throughout the season, when Patrick Wisdom gets a start at third or when the outfielders get a day off, but to start off the season I’d like to see the lineup look something close to the two options above.

What do you want the Cubs lineup to be? Let us know in the comments and make sure to check out the Pinwheels And Ivy Podcast.

Oh and the Pinwheels And Ivy Podcast is also having a ticket giveaway if we get to 1K subscribers on YouTube.

🚨🚨🚨TICKET GIVEAWAY🚨🚨🚨 Get Pinwheels And Ivy Podcast to 1K subscribers by MLB Opening Day and we’ll give away 2 tickets to a #WhiteSox game behind their dugout!

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2 COMMENTS

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P K
P K
Jan 24, 2023 9:33 pm

2017? Thanks for the 1st reality, er, projection of the 2023 Cubs lineup.

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Jan 24, 2023 1:56 pm

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