The Cubs May Finally Have Their Answer at Leadoff

by Dominic Archer

The Chicago Cubs have been one of the National League’s best teams for the last few years. However, since the departure of Dexter Fowler, they’ve had a revolving door of leadoff men. Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and many more led off a game for the Cubs under Joe Maddon. With Kris Bryant as the favorite to be the leadoff man for former Cub and rookie manager David Ross, the Cubs think they’ve solved their leadoff problem.

Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo did have success in the leadoff spot, but Zobrist retired, and Rizzo’s bat is best suited for the #3 spot in the lineup. Kris Bryant’s career OBP of .385 and ability to run the bases makes him a very good candidate to relieve the Cubs of their leadoff woes. There haven’t been a lot of other names thrown around for the lead off guy, so let me introduce you to one who could be the second-best option for the leadoff spot: Ian Miller

The Cubs signed Miller, an outfielder, to a minor league contract this past season and gave him an invite to spring training. The 28-year-old was drafted by the Mariners in the 14th round in 2013 and spent his career in the Mariners and the Twins farm systems. Miller has 17 career at-bats in the big leagues and compiled a dismal career OPS of .412. But don’t let those numbers fool you because Miller can play ball. This spring, Miller was slashing .382/.462/.471 in 40 at-bats. His minor league stats aren’t that bad, either. His career slash line in the minors was .274/.340/.357. What he lacked in power numbers, he made up for on the base paths, stealing 243 bases in the minors.

Miller is also a decent fielder, with a career .982 fielding percentage over 6,000 innings between RF, LF, and CF. With the universal DH being implemented into the National League this year and Kyle Schwarber as the top candidate, that opens a spot in the outfield for a guy like Miller to get some quality big league innings.

Kris Bryant may be the Cubs most capable player to be the leadoff man for the Cubs in 2020. But, if he goes down with an injury or isn’t producing at the top of the lineup, Miller could step in and provide a legitimate threat on the bases.