Nico Hoerner earned a Gold Glove nomination after notching five Defensive Runs Saved in just over 200 innings at the keystone in 2020, but his versatility will make him more than a bit player for the Cubs moving forward. Thanks to his plus glovework, the 23-year-old was worth 0.7 bWAR in 2020 despite slashing .222/.312/.259. His defensive prowess will keep his name on the lineup card while his bat works to catch up, writes Russell Dorsey of the Chicago Sun-Times. Hoerner played five positions including centerfield – the Cubs’ most glaring long-and-short-term hole. Ian Happ was the bulk starter in center in 2020, but he could move to left now that Kyle Schwarber was non-tendered. The Cubs are likely to add at least another name to their outfield mix, but don’t be surprised to see Hoerner continue to get looks there in the spring while competing with David Bote for regular second base reps.
As we look forward to the new year, let’s see what else is happening around the sport…
- With two COVID-19 vaccines now on the market, owners are considering a push to delay the season opener until May. In their minds, a significant enough number in vaccinations could justify the delay, writes Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com. Players have thus far resisted any attempts to push back the start of the season, however. The MLBPA wants a 162-game season rather than face another year of prorated pay. With coronavirus cases still on the rise, however, it’s prudent for MLB to take whatever precautions necessary to limit the risk of breakouts in 2021.
- MLB.com’s Director of Research and Development Daren Willman put together a fun chart to peruse this holiday season (via Twitter). Williams posted the current home run leaders by birth state, and there are definitely some places for a young go-getter to take their local crown. Maine, Alaska, and New Hampshire each have career leaders with less than 100 home runs, while Duke Sims landed exactly at the century mark to leader all Utahans. Paul Goldschmidt (Delaware), Bryce Harper (Nevada), Kurt Suzuki (Hawaii), Mike Trout (New Jersey), and Ryan Zimmerman (North Carolina) could add to their leads in 2021, while the recently-retired Alex Gordon ended his career as Nebraska’s all-time home run king. Executive Director of the MLBPA Tony Clark also makes the list as Kansas’ all-time leader.