Cubs hope Nico Hoerner can be their next Ben Zobrist-type utilityman

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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Nico Hoerner / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

In Nico Hoerner, the Cubs have a versatile ‘plus’ defender

He checks a lot of the same boxes, especially defensively. He’s capable of giving you, at a minimum, solid and, at his best, flat-out elite defense at multiple positions. Don’t forget, he was a Gold Glove finalist this year at second base in the National League, amassing five Defensive Runs Saved in a shortened season.

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David Ross loved what he got from Hoerner this year, despite a pretty underwhelming showing at the dish, where he amassed a disappointing 63 wRC+.

"‘‘The great thing about Nico is, however the roster is shaped, he provides a lot of flexibility,’’ Ross said. ‘‘His willingness to grow and attack any position and his baseball IQ make it really easy to have the conversation of, ‘I need you to bounce around,’ ‘I need you to lock in at short,’ or whatever the case may be. It’s easy with a guy like that because there’s a lot of flexibility there. There’s a willingness to learn, and he’s a good baseball player.’’"

This was the quote that made me draw the line from Hoerner to Zobrist. Look, we all love Zo. The guy was the epitome of a class-act, on and off the field. But he was never a Hall of Fame guy. He was the guy who makes those Cooperstown-bound teammates look good. He was the one who helped those guys get their World Series rings by grinding, being a consummate professional and always putting the team first.