Monday, April 23, 2012
Streaking/Slumping: LaHair thriving
By Bruce Levine
Bryan LaHair has produced early in his chance to play everyday at first base while Alfonso Soriano has gotten off to another slow start.
1. Darwin Barney, 2B: Barney batted .381 with 5 RBIs over a seven-day span. A tireless worker, Barney added 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason to try to avoid a late season fade that put a damper on the end of his rookie season when he batted .238 after the All-Star Game after hitting .306 before the break. Barney’s defense around the bag also has improved.
2. Bryan LaHair, 1B: Battling a sore lower back late in spring training, LaHair has taken advantage of his opportunity to play every day in the major leagues by leading the Cubs in home runs (2) and RBIs (9) while batting .361 and posting a .455 on-base percentage through the first 15 games of the season. He also has reached base in 12 straight games and is hitting .433 against right-handed pitching. A move to the outfield will need to take place when the equally hot-hitting Anthony Rizzo is recalled from Triple-A Iowa at some point this season.
1. Geovany Soto, C: Soto makes the list for the second straight week coming off a particularly brutal game on Sunday, going hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts and back-to-back throwing errors in the Cincinnati Reds' two-run sixth inning. Soto was on top of his game in spring training, throwing and hitting like his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2008. Catching time may be cut with hot-hitting rookie Steve Clevenger (batting .556 on a 10-of-18 start) beginning to cut into Soto’s playing time.
2. Alfonso Soriano, LF: Another Cubs starter who was coming off a strong spring training, the 36-year-old left fielder has had a cold start to the season. The freeze out includes zero home runs and extra base hits in 14 games, and he has one hit in his last 16 at-bats. Soriano is on pace to strike out 162 times, and his .448 OPS is among the worst in baseball.