State of the Cubs: Where roster stands at second base in 2022 and beyond
With the lockout over and Spring Training kicking into gear, the focus shifts to the Cubs’ roster. Jed Hoyer, Carter Hawkins and the rest of the front office still have some holes to fill before the first regular season game on April 7.
We break down the organizational depth chart at each position post-lockout and what to expect in 2022 and beyond.
Next up: Second base
1. Nick Madrigal
2. Nico Hoerner
3. Sergio Alcántara
4. David Bote
The second base position all comes down to health. Madrigal has missed more than 130 games to injury over the last two seasons and Hoerner was limited to just 44 games in 2021 due to a variety of maladies.
When he’s been on the field in his brief big-league career, Madrigal has been an offensive unicorn. In a day and age where strikeouts outweigh hits for the first time ever, Madrigal rarely whiffs and makes more contact than anybody else in the game.
Madrigal boasts a 92% contact rate in the big leagues, the highest mark in baseball over the last two years.
That contact has not led to much power (2 homers) but it has resulted in a fantastic .317 batting average over 324 plate appearances to go along with a .358 on-base percentage, .764 OPS and 110 OPS+.
In 163 minor-league games, Madrigal walked 51 times compared to only 21 strikeouts. He also was a threat on the basepaths (43 stolen bases), though that has not yet translated to the majors (3 SBs).
Madrigal’s high-contact approach is something the Cubs have coveted for years in an effort to get more well-rounded offensively instead of an all-or-nothing type of lineup.
With the reported signing of Andrelton Simmons, it frees up Hoerner to take on more of a utility role. Hoerner will certainly see time at shortstop when Simmons is not playing and also spell Madrigal at second base or provide depth at third base and any of the outfield spots.
The DH spot becomes a luxury and might be a good way for manager David Ross to help keep players healthy and fresh, giving players like Madrigal and Willson Contreras half days off while keeping their bat in the lineup.
Alcántara slots in as a backup across pretty much every infield position for the Cubs. The 25-year-old hit .205 with a .630 OPS in 89 games in 2021 and is out of minor-league options.
Bote is currently rehabbing from left shoulder surgery and his status for the start of the 2022 season is likely delayed. He won the starting second base job out of camp last spring and when he returns to health, the soon-to-be-29-year-old should provide depth at second and third base.
Madrigal turned 25 last week and is under team control for five years. He was a central piece of the Craig Kimbrel crosstown trade last summer and the Cubs hope he’s a big part of the lineup for years to come.
The big question will be health and if he is able to play 140 or so games each season.
He and Hoerner are both contact-oriented bats but Hoerner has been better defensively to date. He was a Gold Glove finalist at second base in 2020 and has +10 Defensive Runs Saved at the position in his career while Madrigal has been slightly below average defensively (-3 DRS) in a relatively small sample size in the big leagues.
Madrigal’s offensive skillset is a refreshing addition to the lineup and he will enter the season as one of the most intriguing players to watch on the 2022 Cubs.