The World Series champion Chicago Cubs have had an inconsistent 2017 to say the least. The team wrapped up a 3-3 road trip on Father's Day Sunday with a 7-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, which set their record at 34-34, right at .500. As mentioned in a previous article a little over a month ago, the Cubs have struggled in all aspects of the game: hitting, pitching and defense, and this has caused manager Joe Maddon to make some tweaks to the team in order to try to solve some issues.

One big hole in the offense has been the lead off man.

With the departure of Dexter Fowler, the role of leading off was left open to a number of options. Kyle Schwarber was slated to start but he has struggled, Ben Zobrist has taken some time in that spot but has had wrist issues and is currently on the disabled list, and rookie Ian Happ had played a few weeks in the lead off spot but had ups and downs, and Jon Jay has batted a few times at the top but is not an everyday starter.

Going to Rizzo

Maddon finally made a surprising move when he announced Anthony Rizzo would be placed into the lead off spot back on June 13th when they were in New York playing the Mets.

While Rizzo was not putting up the best batting average at the time (.249), he was posting a .390 on-base% because he was still putting together great at bats and taking walks. The idea was that he could get on base to get the lineup started, despite the fact that he is a career 3/4 spot hitter who is meant to drive in runs.

Facing Mets' Zach Wheeler, Rizzo stepped up to the plate and began the game with a 462 foot homer to centerfield which made the Cubs dugout stand and cheer and Joe Maddon look like a genius. It was one of the most majestic blasts in his career and there was more to come.

Continuing success

Since that June 13th game, Rizzo has continued to bat lead off in every game. The Cubs had one more game in New York and then had a three-game set with the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Since then he has hit another lead off homer, walked, singled, and doubled all to start a game. That is a perfect 1.000 on-base% leading off the game on the road trip and he is slated to continue to bat first in the upcoming game against San Diego at Wrigley Field tonight.

Not only is Rizzo getting hits to start the game but also is batting .417 with three homers and eight RBIs, slashing .263/.395/.905 overall on the season. It is also funny to note that it seemed like Rizzo had a third-straight lead off home run in the first game of the Pirates series, but when his drive over the foul pole was overruled and called a foul ball, he eventually walked.

The future of lead off

While Rizzo is jokingly referred to as, "The greatest lead off man of all time," there is doubt that he stays there forever. This change was made for a shakeup in the inconsistent lineup, and almost can be seen as a desperation move. Right now it has worked perfectly, but it will not stay perfect and eventually Anthony Rizzo will go back to hitting 3rd, where he usually does. It will probably stay the way it is right now until it stops working which can be soon or later, and it is hard to know.

But until it stops working, Anthony Rizzo will be leading off for the Cubs.

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