Based on what the history book, or at least Baseball-Reference, says about Joe Maddon it is very unlikely Maddon finds a lineup and sticks with it, even for half of the 162-game schedule. And Maddon will field questions from the media about his lineup on a daily basis.
Joe Maddon should start answering a few of those questions next week as his projected everyday lineup receives more playing time as Spring Training begins its final stretch.
Dexter Fowler should hit at the top of the lineup. Anthony Rizzo is a possibility in the two spot on the days the pitcher hits eighth and likely third in the games Maddon goes with a traditional National League lineup. Jorge Soler will hit somewhere in the middle with Miguel Montero mixed in as Maddon likes to arrange his lineup alternating lefties and righties. Maddon wants to make the end of the game bullpen decisions a little harder on the opposing manager.
Maddon said earlier in the week he’s not sure and called it a mystery as to which players would be the best fit batting second in the lineup.
When Maddon made those comments, the first player that came to mind that would be a good fit batting second in the Cubs lineup was Starlin Castro, especially after Kris Bryant is called up and added to the middle of the order.
Jesse Rogers asked Castro about batting in the two-hole and which spot in the order he prefers to hit.
Castro said he liked hitting fourth last year because of the runners that were on base and in scoring position in front of him. Castro admitted to Rogers that he will likely not hit fourth once Bryant is up and Jorge Soler with the team for the full season. Castro indicated he also likes batting second and if he’s not the clean-up hitter then the two-hole would be fine with him.
Starlin Castro has seen the most time hitting second during his career. And the numbers are pretty good for, as Jesse Rogers pointed out, some really bad teams.
Castro owns a .292/.326/.415 slash line in 249 games, 1045 at bats, in the two-hole with 56 doubles, eight triples, 19 home runs and 42 walks for a .741 OPS. Castro might not walk or work counts like a prototypical top of the order hitter, but he makes contact and uses the entire field.
With Dexter Fowler at the top of the lineup and if he gets on base at just his career average of 36 percent of the time (.366 OBP), Castro will have more opportunities to hit with runners on base. Castro has excelled in that area in his career, batting .297/.342/.416 with 365 hits in 1229 at bats.
As Joe Maddon continues to gather information and learn what his players’ strengths and weaknesses are, the lineup combinations should be very interesting. But once Kris Bryant is up and the dust settles, Starlin Castro could fit very well in between Dexter Fowler and Anthony Rizzo at the top of the batting order.