In the never ending battle of Joe Maddon’s lineup cards, I think he may have hit on a combination that seems to be working. One of the criticisms of I have had of the guy I affectionately refer to as “Crazy Joe” is the lineup carousel he sometimes seems to get on. Now I realize you can’t roll the same lineup out there 162 times, but I do think baseball players are mostly creatures of habit. There are some who would argue that it shouldn’t matter where you hit in the lineup. I’ve heard this argument many times. I just don’t buy it. I think the current lineup that we have seen for the past week or so is the right combination to maximize the Cubs offense.

The first and most obvious beneficiary is Javy Baez. The move from hitting 8th to 2nd has really agreed with Baez, and when you think about it, it makes sense. Let’s be hones Cubs fans. Javy Baez is not a disciplined hitter, and he is never going to be. A high percentage of Latin players are free swingers. There’s an old saying that you don’t walk your way off the island. If you ever watch some of these Latin teams, say in the World Baseball Classic (which I highly recommend),Β  you will see evidence of that. Remember Vlad Guerrero? His strike zone was the county on the left to the county on the right. That’s Hall of Famer Vlad Guerrero by the way. So to expect Baez to suddenly become the Puerto Rican GodΒ  of walks is very unrealistic. When he does make contact though, especially lately, good things happen. So it really mad no sense to have him hitting in front of the pitcher. If you’re the opposing team, why would you ever throw him a strike with the pitcher on deck? Especially if it’s a man/men on base situation. Of course if we weren’t still in the 19th century in the National League and had the DH, this is a totally different story. But I may have already expressed my opinion on that subject. The reality is we don’t have a DH, so Baez hitting in front of Bryant and Rizzo rather than Jon Lester really makes sense to me. I never really cared for Kris Bryant in the 2 holes anyway. He needs to hit 3rd or 4th for RBI situations. I also think it is beneficial for Jason Heyward to hit 8th, and he IS a disciplined hitter and won’t chase a lot of the garbage Javy will. I guess you could accomplish the same thing by hitting the pitcher 8th, but why make 3 moves when you only need one? That can get sticky late in games when you are double switching too. Again, a DH would take care of that *cough cough*.

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The second beneficiary is Albert Almora. Not necessarily where he’s hitting in the lineup, just the fact that he’s in the lineup. I complained pretty much all year last year that Almora should have been given the center field and lead off jobs until he played his way out of them. It never seemed to happen on a regular basis. Another Maddon move I never understood. He’s your best option in center. I never liked moving Heyward to center. Not that he can’t do it, but he’s a natural right fielder with a right fielder’s arm. Almora has been catching everything and hitting well too in this, the 4th straight start for him, of of this writing. Why Maddon chose Kyle Schwarber as a lead off man over Almora never made any sense to me. Now the problem with this alignment is it leaves 1 outfield spot for 3 players, Schwarber, Ian Happ, and Ben Zobrist, when healthy. We all know my feelings on Scwarber’s fielding skills, or lack thereof. Happ, after launching the first pitch of the season into the seats in Florida on Opening Day has turned into s strikeout machine. Zobrist is just at the point in his career where he’s probably just not an every day player anymore. That’s not a knock on him. I’m not about to give up on a switch-hitter who can play multiple positions and has a bag full of post season experience. I guess that’s up to Joe to figure out. He makes the big money here, not me. Personally I don’t see anything wrong with moving those guys in and out a little, depending on who’s hot, who’s not, match ups, andΒ  health.

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Now I’m not saying this should be the lineup 162 times. But I like a more consistent lineup, and I like this particular lineup right now. Now it’s baseball, so who know? Maybe it’s just a case of Baez and Almora being hot right now. Maybe it’s the illusion that is Coors Field. I’d just like to stay with this for awhile, and not see Joe panic if the Cubs get shut out or only get 5 hits in one game and play this out for awhile.

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