Geek preview: Schwarber best fit for Cubs’ leadoff spot
MESA, Ariz. — Have a problem with manager Joe Maddon replacing Dexter Fowler with Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot?
Take it up with Maddon’s geeks.
“I’m all about the geeks,” Maddon said. “Everybody should have his own geek.”
The source of Maddon’s glee with the workers in the analytics department Sunday was what he saw in a report about the team’s estimated run production.
“The projection with Schwarber hitting first and the pitcher eighth is really high. Really high,” Maddon said. ‘‘If that number’s right, I’ll take it.”
Maddon said it adds up to more than the 808 runs the Cubs scored last year — third-most in the majors — with Schwarber getting the majority of time in the leadoff spot. The pitcher batting eighth doesn’t play as well on the days Schwarber takes off against lefties, so the pitcher will hit ninth those days, Maddon said.
“They gave me a sheet with different scenarios,” he said. “It was pretty heavy. Dexter was awesome obviously. But Schwarber with the power potential, the home runs coming out of that spot with the extra at-bats, the natural rebound of Jason [Heyward] — you just think that Jason’s going to be a better hitter production-wise than last year — and some of the young guys like Willson [Contreras] as an example, in his second year in the big leagues. . . . All those things indicate that if we set it up this way, we should have a pretty good offensive year, especially against a right-handed pitcher.”
The Cubs averaged 4.99 runs last year. How far north of 5.0 are the Schwarber projections?
“I don’t know,” Maddon said, smirking at the sudden memory loss. “It’s a good number.”
The Cubs’ record for runs in a season is 998 in 1930 in a 156-game season (6.4 runs per game).