The Chicago Cubs are hoping that Jason Heyward can do something he's never really done in his Major League baseball career. Whisperings around spring training are that the team is going to hope that the right fielder can take over permanent duties at the leadoff spot in 2019. That development is one that no one in the club is willing to paint themselves into a corner on, but the move would make sense, should it remotely work out. It makes sense for the team and the player.

Chicago Cubs enter third straight season without true leadoff hitter

2016 is a season of note for a number of reasons for Cubs fans.

There is, of course, the fact that the team won its first World Series in over 100 years. That season is also the last time the club had a true leadoff hitter.

Back then, the leadoff man was center fielder Dexter Fowler. He was allowed to depart to St. Louis in that offseason and Theo Epstein and company have been trying to find someone to fill his shoes ever since. 2017 saw the team hope Kyle Schwarber could be a kind of power hitting leadoff hitter who could draw some walks. He didn't do either especially well.

In 2018, the team basically tried the exact same approach when it opened the season with Ian Happ leading off.

After a great spring, and an exciting first week of the year, it became obvious quickly he wasn't going to fit the bill. This year, the Chicago Cubs haven't committed to anyone taking the role permanently.

Jason Heyward's first game at leadoff won't be only one

While Chicago Cubs fans should never read all that much into the lineup, for the first spring training game of the year, (Daniel Descalso batted cleanup) there is reason to believe the right fielder's opening game spot is one he will repeat.

The Chicago Tribune reports that manager Joe Maddon made it clear he thinks the outfielder might be able to do the job long term. "What you’d like to do is get guys at the top of the order, get them in, get them out,” Maddon said before his team's first spring training game of the year. “It’s something Jason may be able to do during the course of the season."

Heyward isn't brand new to the leadoff spot.

He tried it out a few times in 2017 when it became clear Schwarber wasn't cutting it. He hit just .105 in 22 plate appearances leading off that season. He had just one plate appearance there last year.

Over the course of his career, however, Jason Heyward has 136 plate appearances and has an OBP of .349. That's good enough for the Chicago Cubs to try him out there. With no obvious person there to take that spot, he might have a long enough leash that we'll really see if he can do the job in 2019 as the team looks for ways to improve its offense compared to 2018's horrid finish.