Cubs manager Dale Sveum is playing the long-ball game with Starlin Castro.
Castro's raw power and ability to make contact at such a young age makes it easy for Sveum to challenge him in the three spot. Not only does he get more at-bats with runners on base, but he sees better pitches with the power hitters waiting behind him.
Castro has been a top-of-the-order hitter for much of his career, seeing the majority of his at-bats in Chicago in the leadoff and No. 2 spot. He has had success there too, so much that the Cubs brass view him as something special.
“It’s a pretty good building block,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “It’s so easy with him to forget about his age and you think about him as an established guy. Well, he’s probably younger that some of the top prospects in the game and he’s already hit .300 in the big leagues twice. So sometimes I think we lose sight of that.
If the Cubs had a more defined middle of the order, the Cubs would have likely kept Castro in the two spot, where he has hit .318 in 472 career at-bats. Considering he has only hit .229 through 201 at-bats in the No. 3 spot, it is possible he will move back if Anthony Rizzo emerges as the power hitter the Cubs hope he can be.
For now, Castro hitting third gives the Cubs someone who will get on base and advance runners, as well as set up opportunities for the guys behind him to drive in runs.
The Cubs always had a lot of power, often leading the league in home runs, but many expect that to change this year as small ball will prevail.