Ranking the 4 biggest Chicago Cubs spring training questions

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Nico Hoerner
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4 biggest Chicago Cubs spring training questions: #3 - Who will bat leadoff?

With a roster that looks wildly different than a year ago, David Ross will need to figure out who leads things off for this batting order in 2023. I've personally been an advocate for Hoerner for quite some time now. For a guy that doesn't have the most pop on the team, batting anywhere in the .280-.300 range is an excellent place to start to earn the job. With an elite 11.0 K% in 2022, the reasons to love him in this role quickly begin to pile up. Knocking Hoerner's game becomes complex, and you must dig deep to critique at all. In terms of areas of improvement to be even better, perhaps, as paradoxical as it seems, his elite contact skills can hinder him.

Though how much he puts the ball is excellent, he has hit the ball on the ground at a 48% clip throughout his career. Drawing a few more walks to get closer to a .350 OBP is certainly something he can achieve. Typically, a line drive will have a launch angle of 10-25 degrees, so his average LA of 8.3 in 2022 is a clear indicator of hitting the ball on the ground a lot, contributing to his BABIP being .300, down from .360 in an admittedly smaller sample size in '21.

Nevertheless, we're grasping at straws here. He still batted .281, so it's not like any of this is to criticize him in the slightest. Circling back to the leadoff position; Hoerner has only received 13 plate appearances in his career but has batted .333/.385/.500 with one walk from the top of the order. He has proven he can steal at least 20 bases in a season, so it seems obvious he should be near the top of the list of eligible candidates.