The Chicago Cubs position players have had an interesting, yet predictable, start to the 2023 season. Jed Hoyer built a roster with an eye on defense and a solid ability getting on base, but not a lot of slug. So far the numbers have pretty much reflected that. In the first half, the Cubs were 6th out of 15th in the National League in OBP (.325), 13th in the NL in slugging percentage (.369), and fifth in Defensive Runs Saved (14 DRS).
So how can we break down and grade the individual performances? We will go through them and give them letter grades. This will be organized by infielders, outfielders, and bench/utility/catchers. Grades will be given to players who have appeared in at least 20 games.
Dansby Swanson: B+
Swanson's efforts in his first year as a Cub have earned him an All-Star nod. His 2.9 fWAR is fourth-best in all of baseball among shortstops, and by Def (FanGraphs) he is the second-most valuable defensive shortstop in baseball just behind Wander Franco. There is no doubt that the bat has cooled a bit since his red-hot start, but he still sports a .343 OBP and .409 slugging with 10 homers. Overall very nice stuff from Swanson.
Nico Hoerner: B
Like Swanson, Hoerner has played exceptional defense. He is by Def he is the second-most valuable defender at second in all of baseball behind Marcus Semien. Hitting wise he has been the team's best RBI hitter, leading the team with 45. He has been good at finding grass with guys in scoring position. He is in a bit of a July funk, with five hits in nine games so far, which has his slash at .271/.321/.376. However, throughout most of the season he has been in the .280-.290 range so there's plenty of reason to think he will work out of it.
Trey Mancini: F
Unfortunately, it's been a brutal ride for Mancini in a Cubs uniform. He sports a dreadful -0.7 fWAR with a 78 wRC+ and -4 DRS as he has struggled to hit and field. The veteran first baseman/outfielder in his prime with the Orioles was a legit offensive producer who could hit 20-30 home runs and is a very likable guy. It just might be a case of him being over the hill which is a real bummer.
Nick Madrigal: B-
"Nicky Two Strikes" got hurt at a bad time. He was hitting .328/.409/.466 with a home run(!)since he returned from Iowa on June 9th. Not to mention he has actually played a pretty respectable third base for a guy who has never done it before. He is hitting .278 on the year. His value has grown greatly since coming back and bringing up what was initially a low grade.
Patrick Wisdom: D+
Early in the year, he was doing very well. In April he hit 10 home runs with a .965 OPS in 25 games. Since then he's hitting .136/.239/.282 with 52 strikeouts over his last 36 games. It has been brutal for him since the start of May. He does not get an F because the first month was so productive and still has his season slugging at .451, but for his sake, he hopefully will turn it around because it's been going all in the wrong direction. The Cubs will be evaluating third base harder as we go forward.
Eric Hosmer: F
Feels like it was another season ago Hosmer was a Cub. He was a placeholder at the league minimum that did not last due to a 67 wRC+, 57% groundball rate, and -0.4 fWAR. Hosmer was once a Gold Glover, All-Star, and World Series champion who had a very nice career, but he has been over that hill for a while now.
Matt Mervis: Incomplete
The slugging prospect's first go-around in the MLB was...not particularly pretty. However, he was up for a short time and is working through it in Iowa right now. Just too early for me to give him a grade for a first brief stint in the Majors.