Chicago Cubs: Where should Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal play?
By Bill Quinn
Chicago Cubs: Nick Madrigal can hit… but can he field?
Word amongst scouts as he was coming up through the minors was that Madrigal was a plus defender in addition to being a great contact guy. Thing is, as noted, Hoerner has already proven he’s an elite second baseman at the big league level. I mean, the guy was a Gold Glove finalist in 2020. And, since the trade, there’s has been a lot of chatter about how good Madrigal actually is on defense. Add in a torn hamstring and maybe his range will be limited or hampered?
To be fair, Hoerner has dealt with various injuries as well, but we’re also talking about a guy who came up as a shortstop and was able to become an elite second baseman because, let’s face it – shortstops can play anywhere. Add in the fact that many have posited that the Cubs could use Hoerner in much the same way they used Kris Bryant: all over the infield and even the outfield if need be. Having positional flexibility isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially given guys like Patrick Wisdom, Ian Happ and Willson Contreras are all able to move around a little bit themselves.
While using Hoerner as a defensive rover of sorts might be beneficial in flexibility, is it worth taking away an elite defensive player at one position to make adequate ones at other positions? Javier Baez was elite at shortstop, second base or third base, so when Joe Maddon used to move him around based on matchups, there was some sense to that. Hoerner isn’t Baez though, and Madrigal isn’t Hoerner. If the Cubs play Hoerner at shortstop and Madrigal at second base, they’d start 2022 worse defensively at two positions as compared to 2021.