We’re on the precipice of Opening Day 2022 – and this year, for a variety of reasons, it feels different – especially for Chicago Cubs fans. There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the team after its teardown last summer, which was followed by a re-stocking, of sorts, this offseason.
For this team to sneak into the expanded 12-team postseason field, a lot of things will have to go right for Chicago – including some breakout performances on an individual basis. Heading into the season, here are my three picks for breakout showings this year.
3 Cubs poised for breakout performances in 2022: #3 – Nick Madrigal
Erase the moniker ‘Nicky Two Strikes’ from your vocabulary when you’re talking about Cubs infielder Nick Madrigal. Instead, let’s be all about ‘Nicky Barrels’ – a nickname Madrigal has gravitated toward (and earned) in his first spring training with his new team.
In today’s game that is dominated by three true outcome hitters (home run/strikeout/walk) – a bat as contact-oriented as Madrigal is a rarity. But going back to the start of his college career at Oregon State, this guy is a .324 hitter who has gotten on base at a .384 clip. At every step along the way, the one thing he’s always done consistently is put barrel to ball.
Poised to be the team’s primary second baseman, Madrigal putting together a breakout season is dependent on his staying healthy. He’s never played more than 120 games in a single season and appeared in just 54 last year before suffering a season-ending injury. For what it’s worth, though, he slashed .305/.349..425 to that point.