The Chicago Cubs are set to take the field this spring with close to the same infield as last season. Minus the loss of a struggling Addison Russell, and former World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, the Cubs’ infield looks the same. The Cubs have alright depth in the infield, but with injury struggles these past couple seasons they could have used a couple more pieces. But what is done is done. And the infield is still chalked with All-star caliber talent.
Cubs fans and the baseball world know first base in Chicago belongs to Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo is coming off a strong 2019 campaign. He hit for a career high average of .293, had 27 homeruns, and lead the league in hit by pitches with 27. Cubs fans should expect to see Rizzo plunked often in 2020, but not lead the league this time around. Victor Caratini will likely be the back up at first base as well as behind the plate. Last season Caratini appeared in 23 games at first while starting 11. While playing at first, he only recorded one error. Also, if Miguel Amaya cracks the major league squad, Cubs fans may see him play a little bit at first when needed.
Second base is filled with depth. However, the starter should be Nico Hoerner, the young second baseman who showed potential during the last stretch of 2019. Hoerner appeared in 20 games, most of which at shortstop. If he can be consistent, then he’ll be the leadoff man that the Cubs have been in search for since the loss of Dexter Fowler. David Bote and Daniel Descalso will be the backups. Bote has a lot on his plate, slowly turning into the Cubs utility man. Descalos is currently sitting third on the depth chart, and will probably play around 80 games at various positions. Another option for the Cubs is having Jason Kipnis in the majors to help mentor Hoerner. Even if Kipnis doesn’t play, it could help the development of Hoerner.
The shortstop position will be held down by none other than Javier Baez. Over the past few seasons, Baez has shown he’s not just a flashy glove; he can also produce on the offensive front. Cubs fans can only hope the two-time all-star puts up numbers like his 2018 campaign where Baez finished second in NL MVP voting. While Baez will be the everyday short-stop the depth chart has Hoerner and Bote slated as his back-ups. With plenty of depth at second base, playing Hoerner at shortstop when Baez is unavailable or needs a rest will be beneficial. It will give Hoerner the chance to learn more from a veteran second baseman, and become a more versatile infielder. Also, giving Bote a look at shortstop here and there wouldn’t be a bad look for the Cubs, who seem to be turning him into a utility man. Cubs fans can expect to see a lot of Baez at shortstop if he stays healthy throughout 2020.
As of now, Kris Bryant is the man on the hot corner. Everyone is aware of the trade rumours that have been circulating throughout the offseason; those rumors will likely not end when the season begins. The three-time all-star and 2016 MVP will be a pivotal piece for this Cubs team that is looking to compete again. After and injury plagued season in 2018, Bryant had a bounce back year in 2019. He batted .282 with 31 homeruns in 543 at-bats. Bryant’s main back-up will be Bote. Bote saw most of his playing time at third base, starting 46 games and appearing in 67 games in 2019. He will be the go-to guy when Bryant’s not manning third base. Descalso, and Ian Happ are other options at third. Cubs fans are hopeful Bryant stays healthy and produces 2016 Bryant-like numbers in 2020.
The Chicago Cubs have a strong infield. With stars like Rizzo, Baez, Bryant, and their top prospect Hoerner, they are in good shape. If they can stay healthy and consistent, then the playoffs aren’t just a fantasy many Cubs fans remember. Chicago is still have a talented squad and all the starting infielders have a shot at playing in the mid summer classic this July. Cubs fans shouldn’t be in panic mode just yet, 2020 will be a bounce back year.
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