Cubs: Five things that must happen for a World Series in 2020
Chicago Cubs: This man has to be your starting second baseman
There has been a lot of talk about where Nico Hoerner should start the season. Let’s put that to bed right now, and right here- Hoerner belongs in Milwaukee on March 26. Regardless of “being ready” or needing some more “seasoning,” the Cubs have no one better equipped to play second base regularly right now. Despite options galore at the keystone, Hoerner is the most talented and best overall option at 22 years of age.
This spring, when Javier Baez is playing shortstop in Mesa, pay close attention to who his partner is up the middle. My guess and hope are that it will be Hoerner if the Cubs plan on trying to win ballgames this season. Sure, they could go with David Bote, Robel Garcia, Ian Happ, or even the dazzling Daniel Descalso, but really? While Happ may be a mainstay in the lineup in the outfield and Bote might be a nice fill-in around the infield, none of those guys can hold a candle to Hoerner’s instincts, infield prowess, make-up, or all-around ability to handle the stick.
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There has been talk about moving Hoerner to centerfield. Still, unless he can play that even better than second base, that seems to be a stretch, especially when you have someone like Ian Happ to stick out there while preserving a better infielder like Hoerner to play in the infield.
As evidenced by his late-season call-up and performance, Hoerner certainly will not be intimidated by the moment. His 20 games late in the season produced 13 runs, 17 RBI, three bombs, and after an offseason to prepare and digest how he was attacked after his nuclear start in the bigs; there’s no doubt he’ll be even more prepared this spring.
Even though Hoerner did struggle against big-league pitching to close the season after a hot start in his debut week, his fielding was as advertised, and his pop may have exceeded expectations. With only three home runs across 288 at-bats in the minors during the 2019 season, Hoerner swatted three in only 78 at-bats with the big league club. If he’s able to exceed expectations or give them exactly what they’re expecting, 2020 will be an excellent year for the Cubs second baseman.