The Chicago Cubs regular season begins in less than two weeks when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field. That leaves only seven more spring training games for players such as Nico Hoerner, Eric Sogard, and David Bote to fight for the starting second base spot.
Second base is the only position in the Cubs’ lineup that does not have a clear-cut starter to begin the season. In the shortened 2020 season, we saw a mix of Nico Hoerner, Jason Kipnis, and David Bote. That said, none of them played well enough to definitively be the favorite.
Kipnis signed a one-year deal this offseason with Atlanta, and the Cubs added veteran Eric Sogard midway through Spring Training. Another name to watch is Ildemaro Vargas, but he is on the outside looking in for the everyday starter position.
Let’s take a look at Hoerner, Bote, and Sogard, and how they stack up.
Nico Hoerner – .222/.312/.259
David Bote – .200/.203/.408
Eric Sogard – .209/.281/.278
Based on 2020 stats, it feels like second base could possibly be the Cubs’ least productive position offensively, especially in the slugging department. David Bote provides the most potential for power, while Nico Hoerner brings contact and an all-field approach. Eric Sogard provides a veteran presence and a lefty bat, two things the Cubs’ lineup could desperately use.
Nico Hoerner has the highest upside of the three candidates. He is young, still developing, and has yet to play in a full major league season. With so much room to grow, the worst-case scenario for Hoerner is 2020, meaning he’d supply strong defense and an average bat. However, given his .321/.387/.536 slash line in Spring Training, he’s giving fans a feeling his bat is turning the developmental corner.
Hoerner’s ceiling is likely a two-spot in the lineup and playing second base for the next ten years. His bat-to-ball skills can be utilized at the top of the order to provide run-producing opportunities for the Cubs’ core hitters and he adds depth to the lineup.
The highest floor goes to David Bote at this moment. Cubs fans know what he is and it isn’t all that bad. Bote’s overall performance has ranged from average to solid across the board, and he has shined in big moments for the Cubs over the past few seasons. He possesses the defensive ability to play anywhere across the infield and a hard-working mentality, making him a dependable option for David Ross.
Unless one of these three players can produce at a high enough level to definitively earn the starting job, the likely scenario for the Cubs at second base this season is a platoon arrangement. This scenario shouldn’t be much different than what Cubs fans have seen for the last couple of years.
Eric Sogard is the newest of three left-handed-hitting second basemen the Cubs have brought in since 2018. The first two — Daniel Descalso and Jason Kipnis — aren’t much different than Sogard. The ideal situation for Sogard would be to return to his 2019 form when he hit .290.
I expect to see either Hoerner or Sogard at second base on a regular basis with Bote filling in occasionally. Bote will also see time at third whenever Kris Bryant is either taking a day off or playing the outfield. That said, any of these three can take the reigns on the position given the depth the Cubs have at second base.