The Cubs can’t afford uncertainty when it comes to who will handle second base.
Being a first-year manager is tough enough but Cubs skipper David Ross faces unprecedented challenges in the coming weeks as the team prepares for the 2020 season.
One of those challenges will be who he puts in the DH spot, which is coming to the National League for the first time this season. Another one will be who gets the starting job in center field: will it be Ian Happ or Albert Almora? But one question looms above all these – who will be the everyday second baseman?
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Ross will have several options to choose from at second. David Bote, Jason Kipnis, Nico Hoerner and Daniel Descalso were all in the running this spring. Who will it be, no one knows as of now, but one thing is certain when Ross does make that decision on who it is, he needs to stick to it.
Bote is in the best spot out of all the guys fighting for the second base job because of his versatility. He can not only play second, but is playable in the outfield and at third, as well. That’s how his career as a Cub has gone so far, he has been used as a utilityman and moved all around the diamond. Bote’s 2019 wasn’t great but he did battle some injures and spent some time in Triple-A. He slashed .257/.362/.422 in 356 plate appearances. He also hit 11 home runs and drove in 41. Bote was off to a fast start in spring training this season, though, hitting .333/.448/.375.
Kipnis is the new guy around the clubhouse, as this is his first year with the Cubs. He had spent the previous nine seasons in Clevland. As a Chicago kid who grew up rooting for the Cubs, this is a unique opportunity for him. Kipnis is a lifetime .269/.347/.442 against right-handed pitching. Even in 2019 Kipnis still, put up .244/.311/.446 against right-handed pitching. The veteran got off to a slow start during spring training this season, hitting just .182/.208/.273.
Hoerner is a wildcard in the group. Because we only saw him for about a month last season due to Javy Baez’s injury. In that month though Hoerner was very good down the stretch for the Cubs. He hit .282/.305/.436 in just 82 plate appearances. Then he got off to a fast start during spring this year as he hit .310/.429/.414. It will be interesting to see how he is used in this unique 2020 season.
Descalso is coming off of a horrendous 2019 season for the Cubs. He hit .173/.271/.250 in 82 games in 2019. Descalso was brought in to be a veteran presence on and off the field. Even Joe Maddon spoke on his still being a good vet in the locker room despite the massive struggles on the field in 2019. It will be up to Ross to decide if he can bounce back in 2020.
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Overall, the Cubs will have options at second base. The most important part of it all is once Ross chooses someone to be the guy, he needs to stick with it. The second base position for the Cubs over that last few seasons has been a revolving door, and nothing as really worked. So, heading into the sprint of a season that we will have in 2020 it’s someone’s job to go out and win the job early and let it ride out for the rest of the season.