By Matt Spiegel–
Amidst all the talk about Starlin Castro, and where he should hit in the lineup, the sad truth about the Cubs’ lineup becomes clear. There’s simply not enough good options to put a threatening lineup together. Is Kosuke Fukudome the true leadoff hitter, because his OBP is best? Maybe. Does Carlos Pena strike out too much to even be in the cleanup role? Perhaps. And really, who should be hitting third?
The 3 spot is for your best hitter. For these purposes, we’ll go ahead and define that as the player with the best OPS (On-base pct. plus slugging pct.). Below is a list of all the primary 3-hitters in MLB so far in 2011, and their career OPS. There are, of course, other factors involved here, be it the injury to Chase Utley, or the breakout season last year of Jose Bautista, or the assumed development of Hunter Pence. That said, it gives you an immediate glance at the best various lineups have to offer.
The Cubs best option right now is probably Aramis Ramirez and his career OPS of .839, considering Pena (.841) is coming off a season in which he hit .196. It’s hard to imagine Alfonso Soriano there (.841), with his obvious decline in mind. Castro (.779) may be the choice eventually, and you could certainly argue you might as well do it right now.
Vs. RHP, I’d go with Fuke, Castro, A-Ram, Pena, Soto, Byrd, Soriano, 2B, P.
Vs. LHP, I imagine I’d fiddle and diddle just as Quade is, until you find something that works.
With some research thanks to Nick Shepkowski, here’s the ugly truth:
|No. 3 Hitter||Career OPS|
|1. Albert Pujols – STL||1.049|
|2. Joey Votto – CIN||.958|
|3. Chipper Jones – ATL||.941|
|4. Ryan Braun – MIL||.921|
|5. Josh Hamilton – TEX||.915|
|6. Mark Teixeria – NYY||.915|
|7. Hanley Ramirez – FLA||.904|
|8. Adam Dunn – CWS||.903|
|9. David Wright – NYM||.899|
|10. Bobby Abreu – LAA||.889|
|11. Joe Mauer – MIN||.887|
|12. Magglio Ordonez – DET||.882|
|13. Evan Longoria – TBR||.879|
|14. Ryan Zimmerman – WAS||.879|
|15. Shin Soo Choo – CLE||.875|
|16. Carlos Gonzalez – COL||.865|
|17. Derrek Lee – BAL||.864|
|18. Andre Eithier – LAD||.853|
|19. Andrew McCutchen – PIT||.827|
|20. Justin Upton – AZ||.825|
|21. Aubrey Huff – SFG||.820|
|22. Hunter Pence – HOU||.818.|
|23. Milton Bradley – SEA||.807|
|24. Jose Bautista – TOR||.798|
|25. David DeJesus – OAK||.785|
|26. Carl Crawford – BOS||.781|
|27. Orlando Hudson – SDP||.769|
|28. Jimmy Rollins – PHI||.764|
|29. Marlon Byrd – CHC||.762|
|30. Alex Gordon – KCR||.734|