Cubs bet on chemistry up the middle with Nico Hoerner, Nick Madrigal

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Last summer, the Chicago Cubs traded Craig Kimbrel to the crosstown rival White Sox for Codi Heuer and Nick Madrigal. However, as of now, the trade is not looking too good, as both Heuer and Madrigal have struggled with injuries.

Earlier this month, though, Madrigal returned from the injured list and started to hit the ball again. At the time of the trade,  the Cubs’ initial thought was to have the middle infield feature Nico Hoerner at shortstop and Madrigal at second. At long last, that’s come to fruition – although it took longer than anticipated.

In the beginning of the season, both Hoerner and Madrigal struggled with the bat, then once Madrigal went on the IL, Hoerner started to pick it up. Now that they are back on the field together and Hoerner is still in the .300 range will Madrigal find his footing at the plate, as well?

Cubs hope middle infield chemistry leads to sustained success

 Chemistry between a second baseman and a shortstop is incredibly important. There needs to be communication between the two positions, and many of them tend to feed off each other. If one position is having a bad game, the other can get sucked into some struggles, as well.

Throughout baseball history, strong defensive chemistry between middle infielders tends to also somehow improve both of their bats. Both players’ games are just better overall. Just look at some of the past duos who had great runs both in the field and at the plate.

2015-2019: Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor (CLE)
2013-2019: Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts (BOS)
1990-2001: Roberto Alomar and Omar Vizquel (CLE)
2015-2021: Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa (HOU)
2005-2013: Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter (NYY)
2003-2014: Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins (PHI)

Each of these duos were fantastic, both defensively and offensively during their times together. Every one of these players made at least one All-Star appearance in their respective careers, so with the Cubs trading for Madrigal, who played both together and against Hoerner since high school, just made sense. Those two already had long-standing history together.

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So the real question is this: With Hoerner having a breakout season, will Madrigal be able to feed off of that and end his 2022 injury-prone season on a high note? If Madrigal cannot turn it around this season, is it time for the Cubs to move on from him and hope that one of the minor league infielders can replace him?