Do I Make You Hoerner, Baby?


Hey, we all gotta put food on the table and this is how I do it. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. And while Hoerner sounds like a Nordic shoe company, you add Nico which brings a suave car salesman vibe into the mix along with a random Austin Powers reference, well, I’m not sure what you actually have, but hopefully, it has something to do with baseball. Definitely a goal I hope to one day achieve! So while the question presented is a quality one, I mean, I always be asking people if they are feeling like a Nordic shoe company, and their main response is silence and walking away, but that’s their loss, after all, we’re also talking about a former first-round pick who’s looking to have quite the career year so far and doing so at the middle-infield position and very possibly on your waiver wire. Do you want to know more?

Of course you do, because if you don’t, you probably already left. Or want to buy some Viking Nike’s. (Which actually has a nice ring to it, just needs more pillaging.) But the first thing you’ll probably want to know is that Hoerner’s past two weeks have been fire, going 11-for-22 over that span, adding to his .312 BA, 23 runs, four homeruns, 24 RBIs and six stolen bases for the year. (His .312 BA would rank 12th overall with enough at-bats to qualify).

Taken as the 24th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Hoerner was considered a very talented middle infielder with the ability to play primarily at shortstop. Though he had a strong skillset along with natural athleticism, there was no one tool that stood out. Essentially, he was tagged as a high-floor low-ceiling player. The lack of power contributed to that label and some scouts believed he would ultimately end up moving to the corners, but he always could make contact and had some speed and soon proved that he had some staying power, immediately excelling in the Arizona Fall League and then later Double-A. During that time, he only struck out eight times in 67 PA’s and even managed an inside-the-park-homerun timed at just 14.69 seconds, which isn’t definitive of anything, but is quite impressive by itself.

Since 2019, Hoerner (also known as “However” if you’re a spell checker) has had various stints at the Major League level essentially doing what he has always done, and that’s, make contact and steal a few bases. In 619 PA’s during this span, he’s hit a very respectable .287, but with a .382 SLG and paltry .093 ISO. And I’m not here to say otherwise, his power is a caveat that probably won’t change, there isn’t really a player here who can hit 20+ homeruns, but the other things he brings to the table have value if given enough opportunity, and after four seasons, he just might be getting exactly that.

Interestingly enough, if you were to take his numbers and extrapolate over a full season, you basically have a guy who can get to 10/15 with a plus batting percentage. Yeah, it won’t set your hair on fire (why would you even want that?) but that’s solid production within context and it sure looks like the Cubs are willing to see where this goes. He had started 16 straight games after getting the call and continues to see starts at shortstop. Most likely pegged as a weekly endeavor, Hoerner might also have staying power in your own leagues. While it’s always “YMMV”, I see absolutely no downside in adding a player who just hit .344 for the month of June.

So while players like Christopher Morel may be getting a majority of the roster hype (and with somewhat good reason, another solid pick-up) as a potential 20/20 player, Hoerner isn’t that far off from that if given enough time, and I doubt you’ll be able to make any Nordic jokes with Morel. Probably no Austin Powers references either. But at the end of the day (Spoiler Alert: it’s actually morning time), Nico Hoerner generally fits the definition of a post-hype sleeper and seems to be getting the opportunity to show he’s staying power, not just for the Cubs, but us too. Based on what he’s done so far, both of us should probably keep paying attention…

 

Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him on Twitter @jaywrong.





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