Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox Preview, Saturday 7/2, 3:10 CT: Lineup Selection Facts

Here are some splits for a certain player:

Batting 1st: .369/.398/.524 (88 PA)
Batting 2nd: .370/.402/.489 (97 PA)
Batting 3rd: .224/.253/.317 (170 PA)

This player also has six hits in eight at-bats batting sixth or seventh, but we'll ignore those very small-sample-size numbers for the purposes of this discussion.

Now tell me where you'd bat that player in your everyday lineup. I know the answer, and I posted this in a comment in last night's recap, but I thought it was worth examining on the front page. Those are Starlin Castro's splits for this season.

Please tell me why you'd ever bat this player third. He's hit at All-Star level batting first or second, but way below replacement level (48 tOPS+ and 46 sOPS+) batting third. What are possible reasons for this? Maybe it's just coincidental -- after all, you are only guaranteed to bat leadoff, if you are first in the lineup, once a game -- but maybe Castro puts too much pressure on himself when he's the #3 hitter. He's not really a RBI guy. Put him in a spot where he can succeed.

Meanwhile, Kosuke Fukudome is hitting .273/.384/.385 as the leadoff hitter (246 PA in 53 games started at leadoff). That's a decent OBA, but Castro's is better.

Finally, this isn't the whole story either, but with Fukudome leading off, the Cubs are 21-33. With Castro hitting first, they're 9-10. (Other players have led off 10 games; here are the team records in those games: Reed Johnson, 1-4; Tony Campana, 0-1; and Jeff Baker, 3-1.)

Some of this may be simply because Mike Quade has used Castro leading off vs. LHP. But it would appear to me that the Cubs would be better off with Castro leading off -- or even batting second -- and Fukudome hitting second, seventh or eighth.

Cubs lineup:

Fukudome rf, Barney 2b, Castro ss, Ramirez 3b, Pena 1b, Byrd cf. Soriano lf, Soto c, Garza p

Marlon Byrd was activated today; Lou Montanez has been returned to Iowa.

White Sox lineup:

Pierre lf, Morel 3b, Dunn rf, Konerko 1b, Pierzynski c, Ramirez ss, Rios cf, Beckham 2b, Humber p
Today's Starting Pitchers
Matt Garza
Matt Garza
Cubs
vs. Philip Humber
Philip Humber
White Sox
4-6 W-L 7-4
4.07 ERA 2.89
88 SO 59
30 BB 23
7 HR 7
vs. Sox -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Matt Garza 4-6 14 14 0 0 0 0 84.0 82 46 38 7 30 88 4.07 1.33


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Philip Humber 7-4 16 14 0 0 0 0 96.2 71 33 31 7 23 59 2.89 .97

The impotent Cubs offense has been ripe for a no-hitter this season. In May 2010, I wrote about the Cubs setting the MLB record for most consecutive games without being no-hit; the mark stands at 7,221 games through yesterday.

Philip Humber has never faced the Cubs. He has taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning three times this season and allowed four hits or fewer in six of his 14 starts. This could be the game where the streak gets snapped.

Or, maybe Matt Garza throws one. He no-hit the Tigers last year. His last start vs. the White Sox, on June 21 at the Cell, got interrupted by rain after he gave up just four hits in five innings (one of which was a monstrous home run by Paul Konerko).

Perhaps we'll see some history today.

Today's game is on Fox, with Kenny Albert and Eric Karros. Since Fox is slobbering over the Yankees and Mets today, the Cubs/Sox game will be seen only in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, most of Iowa (except areas covered by Omaha market), and the parts of Indiana covered by the Chicago and Evansville markets. Here's the complete coverage map, and here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation White Sox site South Side Sox. The usual caution is advised.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 3 pm CDT and the overflow threads will post at 4 pm, 5 pm and 5:45 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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