With the Cubs’ depth in the infield it was only a matter of time before either Kris Bryant or Javy Baez became every day outfielders. Since Bryant has put in a good amount of time in Left Field with the injury of Kyle Schwarber, it appears Joe Maddon is comfortable making him his every day left fielder.
And it makes sense.
Baez is a good infielder and hasn’t spent much time in the outfield and we need his bat in the lineup. Sunday’s walk-off bomb proved that. But we also need Bryant in the lineup every day.
Let’s look at the scenarios:
A) If Baez plays third and Bryant plays left field, that benches Jorge Soler and Tommy LaStella. Both are good bats off the bench, particularly LaStella’s left handed bat. This may be the perfect scenario for the Cubs.
B) Put LaStella at third, Baez at short, and keep Bryant in left field. This gives you the ability to have an additional left handed bat in the lineup while being able to bring in a right-handed batter, Addison Russell, off the bench if a southpaw enters the game. Then you simply shift Baez to third and Russell to short.
C) And don’t forget Ben Zobrist can play outfield as well. In this scenario, with a left handed pitcher on the mound, Zobrist would play left field, Bryant would play third, Soler would play right, Russell at short, and Baez at 2nd. And of course, you’d have two great left handed batters – Heyward and LaStella coming off the bench when a right handed pitcher comes in the game.
D) We should also put Matt Szczur in this mix. He could play right instead of Soler but that doesn’t change the Bryant, Russell, Baez infield scenario with Zobrist, Fowler, and Szczur in the outfield.
The point is – we have options. And since we’re competing for a World Series, Joe Maddon will be less concerned with individual statistics than ever before. We can beat teams with matchup advantages, rested players, speed, power, and defense.
However way you slice it – it’s time for Baez to be in the lineup every day. That just means we need to get used to calling Kris Bryant an outfielder and seeing Jorge Soler a lot less.
And I’m okay with that.