Chicago Cubs: Projecting a full season of Nico Hoerner

Nico Hoerner / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Nico Hoerner / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs top prospect Nico Hoerner burst onto the scene unexpectedly late last season. Now, he has the chance to show he belongs in 2020.

Nico Hoerner showed he belonged during his brief stint with the Cubs last summer, hitting above .280 and mashing three home runs during his short time in the majors. That being said, small sample sizes can fool anybody.

It’s no secret that Hoerner is the high contact bat the Cubs are looking for at the top of the order and he can play multiple positions around the diamond. FanGraphs projects the former Stanford standout to rack up just over 300 plate appearances in 2020 with an 89 wRC+. That works out, by their estimation, to seven home runs and a .271/.318/.414 slash line and a respectable 12.7 strikeout percentage. The last part is music to the ears of Cubs fans.

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With the makeup of the roster as it currently stands, with all the power from top to bottom, Hoerner doesn’t have to be the best hitter. All he has to do is just get on base routinely to set it up for the big boppers. Granted, there is no guarantee of Kris Bryant or Willson Contreras being in the lineup come Opening Day, but if they are, this could be a deep lineup.

With Bryant reportedly expected to lose his service time grievance, this may open the door for the Cubs to do something with Bryant. Will the Cubs trade the former MVP and acquire Nolan Arenado? Will they try to keep Bryant and acquire Arenado or trade Bryant and miss on Arenado altogether? That last one is the absolute worst case scenario for Cubs fans and probably makes them a .500 team on paper.

Hoerner may win the opening day job at second base, who knows. Daniel Descalso was downright awful last year and who knows how he will return from the injury he had. Ian Happ barely plays second anymore and has basically converted to a full-time outfielder. Tony Kemp wasn’t great offensively in 2019 and Addison Russell is no longer a Cub, which leaves a huge void at second. Why not give Hoerner a shot and see what he has?

Growing pains are obviously expected from a rookie with just a month’s worth of experience in the Majors, and there will be growing pains. It may be painful to watch Hoerner at times this year, but the best course of action is to let him work through his problems at the plate. His profile is different than most of the hitters on the team and that can work to his benefit.

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Personally, I’m boldly expecting Hoerner to sit around .260-.280 with an OBP of about .310-.330. He may crack 15-20 home runs as well, if not for the windy days in Wrigley alone. Chicago needs to see what they have in Hoerner and give him a chance to see what he can do as a full-time player.