David Ross and the Chicago Cubs are adding insult to injury Sunday night with the inclusion of Eric Sogard in the starting lineup over Sergio Alcantara (although he’s now been inserted at shortstop with Javier Baez a late scratch), but in the eyes of just about everyone else watching the games, talking about the games, and scouting the games, it would appear Sogard’s time in Chicago is about at an end.
In discussing the overwhelming feeling that Sogard has run out of rope on the North Side, I’m not even getting into the highly incendiary discussion about who’s vaccinated and who’s not and frankly, that’s a matter for the Cubs clubhouse as far as I’m concerned. My discussion here will be 100 percent based on baseball production and merit, so whether you lean one way or the other on the elephant in the room, it won’t even matter.
Chicago Cubs: Sergio Alcantara has to start whenever possible at this point
First off, without the myriad injuries the Cubs have endured this year, fans wouldn’t have had the chance to see guys like Matt Duffy, Patrick Wisdom, Sogard or Alcantara at all. In my opinion, Nico Hoerner was the man from day one, and everyone else is a distant second (no pun intended) from his abilities. That being said, Chicago has faced wave after wave of injuries, including Hoerner, David Bote, Duffy, and even Baez for a few games here and there on the infield alone. Thankfully, Kris Bryant has put up MVP numbers while essentially being a rover for Ross this season, and Wisdom and Alcantara have been revelations recently.
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So, the question is, why is Sogard still starting ballgames? Granted, you can’t quite DFA him until one or two of those infielders are back given the injuries across the team and all of MLB this season, but that doesn’t mean he needs to do anything other than sit on the bench and pinch hit for a pitcher late in the game. All Alcantara has done since being called up on May 30 is put up an absurd slash line of .310/.344/.793 for an OPS of 1.137.
No, he’s not going to do that the rest of the year, and no, it’s not what anyone remotely expected, but since he’s up and doing it, why is he not playing over Sogard? He’s a switch hitter, so there’s no argument for the veteran over him there, he’s shown more power than Sogard despite both being rather diminutive middle infielders, and he’s just been far and away more valuable.
So far, in 32 plate appearances, Alcantara has been worth 0.5 fWAR to Sogard’s -0.2 fWAR over 128 PA. Sogard has been a positive fielder so far this season, but so has Alcantara in a quarter of the time while being much more valuable at the plate.
While this continues to befuddle most fans and seemingly even media members, my guess is Sogard’s time is coming as soon as the Cubs get back to full strength, or even close. Sogard’s contract was only a one-year/$1 million job, so it’s not like that’ll be an impediment once the time comes.
Have patience, friends. While Sogard has filled a role and had some big hits, at this point he has become irrelevant baseball-wise and it’s only a matter of time before more talented players replace him once they’re healthy.