Cubs need to do right by Nico Hoerner and give him some respect

Caddyshack Character
Caddyshack Character / Hulton Archive/GettyImages

Poor Nico Hoerner. He gets no respect.

If you read or follow anything about the Cubs' offseason plans, all anyone can seemingly talk about is getting a shortstop. Traditionally, the shortstop is usually the best athlete on the field, and when I played Little League, that guy either pitched or played short. Wasn’t me. I fully recognize that four of the top 10 free agents are shortstops. I get it, but whoa, let’s take a moment to appreciate the season Nico Hoerner just had. Personally, I'd consider him to be the team's MVP this year.

The Chicago shortstop led the team in batting average (eighth in the National League), WAR (4.5), triples (5) and stole the most bases (20) of any Cub since Javy Baez swiped 21 in 2018. Incidentally, the elusive Baez was caught nine times that year, Nico just two. His defensive runs saved at this elite position was tied for fourth in all of baseball - although all that got him was a Gold Glove snub.

Cubs got all they bargained for and more from Nico Hoerner this year

I have always enjoyed the story of his MLB debut. He was the Cubs’ first-round draft pick out of Stanford in 2018, and after his 2019 season ended at Double-A Tennessee, he went home to enjoy his offseason. Then things went sideways when Baez broke his thumb. Addison Russell was hit in the head with a pitch and went into concussion protocol. Triple-A shortstop Dixon Machado was out for the season with a quad injury. Next name on the depth chart was none other than Hoerner, who jetted off to San Diego where he went 3-for-5 in his MLB debut with a triple. He hit a respectable .282 the rest of the season. In both 2020 and 2021, injuries derailed his progress in pretty signficiant ways.

Last year's free agent class had a big crop of shortstop talent, as well. Compared to these five players, he did pretty good. Let's take a look at WAR: Marcus Semien (5.7), Carlos Correa (5.4), Hoerner (4.5), Corey Seager (4.1), with Trevor Story and some guy named Baez both at 2.5. Despite Hoerner's place in this list, all I hear about are Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson.

I doubt Hoerner, at 26, has ever heard of Rodney Dangerfield. He was a unique and hilarious comedian whose catchphrase was “I Don’t Get No Respect.” He was a bug-eyed career stand-up guy appearing on Ed Sullivan and once almost made Johnny Carson fall out his chair laughing. The writing of this piece was delayed significantly by watching a few clips online. He made his film debut at the age of 59 in the classic comedy Caddyshack staring Cubs fam Bill Murray and his brother Brian Doyle Murray. Back to School isn’t bad, but after that you’re on your own.

Extend Hoerner now and show him respect. Other teams do it, and years ago the Cubs did with Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. Yes, they can sign a shortstop and move him to second. At one time they even thought of him in center, just showing how versatile this guy is on the diamond.

With Brennen Davis' back problems ongoing and apparently not solved, and a horrific injury to Alexander Canario, perhaps the money for a bat/position player should go to, as our Jake Misener recently wrote about. Maybe it’s time for us to “Find Nimmo.”

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Speaking of respect, I think the talk of bringing in a first baseman is silly. Matt Mervis has earned a shot, and then some. Patrick Wisdom can platoon against tough lefties. Christopher Morel played more games at third than any other position. There are better ways to spend money this winter.