Jon Jay Should Start in the Postseason

Joe Maddon has the best kind of problem. He has too many good players to fit into the eight position player spots on the baseball diamond. Jason Heyward has been a positive offensive for an entire month for the first time in his Cubs career. Combine that with his elite glove and base running and it makes it awfully hard to keep out of the lineup. Ian Happ hit more home runs than any switch hitting rookie in Cubs history, and was just one shy of the rookie record for switch hitters set this season. Kyle Schwarber has awoken into the power hitting beast we expected in the second half. Addison Russell looks healthy and seems to always play best with the spotlight on. Javier Baez has become El Mago. Ben Zobrist was the MVP in the World Series last year. Albert Almora's base running was key in that World Series, and looks like the bat might have finally developed to match the glove and base running.

The Cubs are loaded with hyper talented 20 somethings. I just wrote over hundred words without mentioning the Cubs perennial league MVP candidates. And yet I think the Cubs best chance of success in this postseason is playing a 32 year old Cardinals castoff who was barely an average hitter by wRC+ (101 with 100 being league average). It hinges on something John talked a lot about (and something I also am a proponent of) which is lineup differentiation. Jon Jay provide something that is lacking in the Cubs lineup currently.

The Joe Maddon Cubs have been nothing but winners. The 92 win, division champion represent the first step back in any conceivable metric the Cubs have taken since Theo Epstein bottomed the franchise out in 2012. However, the Cubs charmed run has had one glaring failure which occurred in a four game stretch in late October 2015. The Cubs faced the most talented and deepest pitching staff they have faced in the 2010s, and the young bats ran ice cold while Daniel Murphy tormented anyone in blue pinstripes on the mound. The Cubs face an extremely deep and talented pitching staff. ERA is not a perfect metric, but it is impressive when you are expected pitchers 2,3 and 5 in that measure in the first 3 games of a series.nats-pitching-staff Well at least Daniel Murphy is still a Met. Wait the Mets somehow let him go and he signed with a division rival?

The Cubs reaction to the 2015 NLCS was to offer the largest contract in club history and the next biggest free agent signing of the same offseason was another position player where they had to trade a former all-star middle infielder to clear a spot. The Cubs realized that the Cubs propensity for swing and miss was an issue in the postseason, and they went out to aggressively fix that problem. Unfortunately Jason Heyward went from a well above average hitter to among baseball's worst full time players at the plate at age 27. Ben Zobrist was magnificent last year, but injuries have finally caught up with the Zorilla. After a solid August, Zobrist has a measely 68 wRC+ in September.

The Cubs have had 11 hitters with over 200 plate appearances in 2017. These 11 hitters comprise the list of players you can reasonable expect to start a postseason game. The Cubs have had 4 players make contact over 80% of the time they swung a bat. contact
Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward have not been stellar offensive forces this season. Heyward has been better recently, and deserves to start for his run prevention skills. However any offensive production this postseason should be considered gravy. Ben Zobrist is still not the player he was last year. That leaves Anthony Rizzo and Jon Jay and the giant gap between Kris Bryant and Albert Almora.

Contact is only one factor in the calculus. Jon Jay is a pesky hitter. He drew a lot of attention for the lengthy 15 pitch at bat in Milwaukee. Jay has several at bats like that, and his ability to have extended bats is incredibly important while facing elite pitching. The Cubs could use a player that makes the starter work instead of allowing the Nationals power pitchers to establish themselves and pitch deep into games.

Jon Jay is not an elite baseball player. He was among the best part time players in the game this year, but the Cubs have players that would be more valuable playing over 162 games. The postseason is different though, and the Cubs need contact mixed in with their talented but at times contact challenged lineup.

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  • I agree, they need him batting leadoff. He is the Cubs best lead-off man. He will start tonite, for proof, look at the most important stretch of games the Cubs played in all year, the two 4-game series at Milwaukee and St. Louis. He started and led off in the first 6 of those, I think. He sat after the Cubs basically clinched the NL Central.
    Jay is Joe's guy right now for the lead off spot.

  • Very well reasoned and you sold me. I think he makes a lot of sense in the lineup.

  • Jay is probably the best option for leadoff in this short series against the likes of Scherzer, Strasburg and Gonzales - all of whom get a lot of Ks. Roark is no slouch in that department either.

    Somebody who can make them work early & raise their pitch counts and level of irritation is called for. He and La Stella may be the best two on the team for that,... and La Stella is more limiting defensively.

  • TLS also should pinch hit in an important spot.

  • Can you match these wRC+ to the Cubs OF owns them?
    Player 2nd half September
    A 117 156
    B 129 140
    C 92 112
    D 105 106
    E 94 86

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Sweet formatting.
    A - 117 - 156
    B - 129 - 140
    C - 92 - 112
    D - 105 - 106
    E - 94 - 86
    First number is 2nd half wRC+, second number is September wRC+.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    So, could you please save me the time of looking them up and just tell us who A-D are?

  • In reply to TTP:

    A- Almora
    B- Schwarber
    C- Heyward
    D- Happ
    E- Jay

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I looked it up. I won't reveal anything, apart to say that it is I expect Player A in the line-up tonight!!

    Well done!

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I actually hadn't even considered that, but yeah. I could get behind it. I was hoping for an outfield of B,C,D though. Want to see as little of E as possible.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Is this time to mention that Player A is 2 of 6 vs. Strasburg, with 2 2B and 2 K's?

    I think I would prefer players A, B and C, with player D preventing Dusty from playing match-ups in the late innings.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I won't argue with that. A has looked great lately, no matter who he faces. As long as B & C start, I don't care whether it's A or D in CF.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    If A is Almora, I'll play devil's advocate. Almora mostly pinch hit and came off the bench to play late in games in September, so you could argue that he has found a groove in that role and is comfortable doing that. Jay has been a real find as a lead-off hitter. I think he does for this team what Fowler did for them the last 2 years, and it is hard to quantify that with a single stat.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Player E is Jay. The point of my post is that he has not been the answer at leadoff. He's been the Cubs worst hitter in the 2nd half.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Jay hit .320 with a .357 OBP in September, both excellent stats for a leadoff hitter. I can cherry pick, too.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Jay - .292 Avg & .366 OBP after the all-star break. Again, excellent cherries, er, stats for a leadoff hitter.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    And I'm not saying Almora's future is to be a role player only, just that at this point in his career, he is an excellent role player for the Cubs, and probably how he helps them the best.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    FWIW, Jay is 1 for 9 against Strasburg, with 3 K and 1BB.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I've convinced myself (probably wrongly) that defense will win this series. I think that is primarily the reason Martin is on the roster. Hence, I want the best defensive CF out there, especially with Schwarbs in LF.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Well, color me surprised. Honestly, I didn't even look at OBP. Of Happ, Almora, and Jay, Jay's September OBP is the highest. I only looked at wRC+. Silly of me. And good on you for pointing it out.
    Jay grades out poorly in wRC+ due to his complete lack of power. I agree with you though especially in this case, that OBP (or the rate at which a hitter does NOT make an out) is more important. I do agree with CubsFanInNorway though. Defense is hugely important. And of the 3 aforementioned CFers, I like Jay's defense the least.

  • Agreed. Jon Jay is like a magic trick; wait, what did I just see? How did he do that? I'm hoping that the time of the year and general atmosphere gets Zobrist's blood pumping. I read that he said he's feeling physically the best he has all season. We'll probably see one or the other leading off every game.

    Is Jay Maddon's Neifi? JJ is way better, of course.

  • It could be an interesting outfield juggle.

    Zobrist no longer really has the mobility to play good outfield D. Let's hope he can contribute, though.

    Almora is the best defensive CF, Heyward really ought to own right, and Schwarber and Jay are both lefthanded and come with some defensive limitations. Happ can play a decent OF and is a switch-hitter, maybe he's turning into a young Zobrist - we can only hope!

    Martin will be a defensive replacement/pinch runner, his bat is nothing to even consider unless the bench has already been emptied.

    No infield surprises are expected.

    Go Cubs!

  • So, if you are Maddon, do you put 52 homers worth of offense on the bench in the form of Schwarber and Happ in favor of Zobrist in LF?

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Zobrist in RF, Heyward in CF and Schwarber in LF

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Is this the actual lineup for tonight?

  • fb_avatar

    Well lineup is out, I don't know that many people saw this

    RF Zo
    3B KB
    1B Riz
    C Willy
    LF Schwarbs
    SS Addy
    CF JHey
    2B Javy
    P Hendricks

  • In reply to Joe Martínez:

    Hmm. so much for JJ starting in CF.

    I get putting Schwarber in there, but not sure about having two of your OFs playing "out of position" in a crucial game.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Analytics!

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    I really like this! By the numbers, Heyward is arguably the bets CFer on the team. By the eye test, he looks better than average out there. Schwarber and Zobrist will be fine defensively in the corners, especially with Hendricks limiting hard contact in the air. And this lineup puts the best configuration of bats out there.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    LOL! What did I know? I really thought Jay made sense, but Zo in the leadoff tonite will prove me wrong. I can see the thinking for this lineup. It allows Zo, Baez, and Schwarber to play. I really thought one of those guys would have to sit. It's going to be great tonite!

  • Just reading this now (during the game actually) and I love me some Jay.....BUT..............I like him coming off the bench. He gives us a legitimate hitter in that respect. With that said, if Zobrist continues to look his age, and then some, I would start Jay in CF and sit Zobrist, which would put Heyward back in RF where he belongs.

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