Chicago Cubs: Could Nico be auditioning for the leadoff role for 2020?
While it would be nice if the Cubs could look internally for options, the pickings might be a bit slim when it comes to options already in the system. Given that most of the positions (other than 2B and maybe CF) are probably in good shape, it would be hard for some guys to bust through the system to become the leadoff hitter for a contending team in 2020.
Basically the only possible option from inside the current organization (if the assumption is the players already discussed are not going to be tried again) is the 22-year-old who was just brought up to play shortstop in the middle of a pennant race. Nico Hoerner, the middle infielder with intangibles galore, might just have the chops and mentality for leading things off, but would the Cubs pull the trigger on the idea?
We don’t have a ton of sample size to go on here, but Hoerner put up a .365 OBP in roughly half a year of at bats at the minor league level. What’s more impressive however, is that he walked and struck out at roughly the same rate (31 BB/36K). We’ve also seen his penchant for making contact and putting the ball in play when he needs to at the big league level over the past week. If Hoerner can continue to work good at bats, get hits, walk, and hit the ball hard consistently, why wouldn’t he be an option?
The bottom line is that it’s doubtful the organization would try to solve this ongoing three-year problem with a rookie, regardless of how great he has been so far and might end up being. It’s more than likely they’ll look to address the problem of a leadoff man outside of the organization, either in the form of a second baseman or center fielder realistically.