Will Cubs turn to an unproven rookie at the top of the order?
Prior to this season, I was telling anyone who would listen, Nico Hoerner is our answer for the leadoff spot. Through the first few weeks of the season, I was saying this even louder, especially after seeing Bryant struggle at the top of the order. As of the past few games, I would like to change my answer. Do I still believe Hoerner could be a future leadoff hitter for the Cubs? Absolutely and I will stand by that, but I do not think he is the solution at the moment.
After getting off to a hot start, Hoerner has struggled of late: .196/.269/.239 with a .508 OPS. It happens, this is part of what a young player will go through during a season. Hoerner, just 23, is dealing with his slump and will have to make the correct adjustments to continue playing at a high-level in the big leagues.
As we know this is not a normal season, so Hoerner does not have the luxury of taking his time to figure this out. The added pressures of batting leadoff would not help his adjustment period and would only be a detriment to his development.
What makes me believe he can one day become a successful leadoff man is what he did last season in a small sample size: .282/.305/.436 in 82 PA. Hoerner puts the ball in play and can make things happen, striking out just 11 times. If there is a downside to his game its a lack of walks (just three in 2019), but he can still improve this as time goes on.
The problem is the Cubs do not have much time, they need a proven option in the leadoff spot.