Cubs have the best second baseman in the game in Nico Hoerner

Texas Rangers v Chicago Cubs
Texas Rangers v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

Ever since making his big league debut far sooner than anticipated late in the 2019 season after injuries dealt a gut punch to the Cubs' middle infield depth, Nico Hoerner has done everything asked of him - and then some.

In 2020, he was a Gold Glove finalist at second base. He was rewarded with being asked to pivot to shortstop ahead of the 2022 campaign. Facing major questions surrounding his defensive abilities, Hoerner quickly silenced those doubts, establishing himself as a premier defender at the position, all while playing a career-high 135 games and putting up a 107 OPS+.

Then, Chicago's signing of Dansby Swanson last offseason necessitated a move back to second for Hoerner. And to say he's handled it well is putting it very mildly.

Cubs: Nico Hoerner has done it all - running, hitting and playing elite defense

In the Cubs' loss on Saturday to the Dodgers at Wrigley Field, Hoerner homered for the second consecutive afternoon as part of a two-hit effort that pushed his on-base streak to 18 consecutive contests. He now leads the league in hits (33) and is tied for the league lead in both stolen bases (9) and runs (19).

According to Fangraphs, Hoerner leads all MLB second basemen in fWAR (1.2) - edging out Rangers star Marcus Semien (1.1). It's early, sure, but through the first few weeks of the 2023 campaign, Hoerner hasn't only proved to be the answer to the Cubs' long-standing leadoff man question, but has become an elite player on both sides of the ball.

Entering Sunday's finale, in which the Cubs will look to earn a split of the four-game set against Los Angeles, Hoerner boasts a 147 wRC+ and .895 OPS. He's showcased his elite bat-to-ball skills, ranking in the 99th percentile in K rate and 100th percentile in whiff rate and xBA, using the entire field masterfully - and even showing some more pop than we're used to seeing from him.

His strong early season performance has been a huge piece of Chicago's early season success and makes the preseason extension he signed with the team look like an even bigger win for the organization, which now has him under team control through the 2026 campaign.

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We haven't yet hit the one-month mark in the 2023 campaign, but the early returns have been tremendous from Hoerner and if he keeps it up, by year's end, he'll no doubt have some hardware and accolades to his credit - and will likely find his name in the national dialogue when it comes to the best players in the game more and more.