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Nico Hoerner Ranks Among League’s Elite Defenders in 2022

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Nico Hoerner has been one of the most enjoyable Cubs players to watch in 2022, his first true full season of play since his 2019 debut. He has continued to be productive at the plate, hitting .283/.330/.399 (104 OPS+) while shining as a full-time shortstop.

The August 28 update to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)’s Defensive Index Rankings (SDI) shows the comment posted by Marquee Sports Network is not mere homerism. Hoerner, a 2020 Gold Glove nominee at second base and team gold glove winner with the Cubs the same year, has been one of the league’s top defenders. I expect him to be a Gold Glove nominee again this year as a shortstop since the SDI “accounts for approximately 25 percent of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process which are added to the votes from the managers and coaches.” Hoerner’s 7.6 SDI rating ties him for 6th place among National League fielders, leading all National League shortstops.

Since the SABR ratings are only listed by league and position and not MLB-wide, I sorted the top ten scores for each league to determine the overall positioning for the top twenty ratings. More than twenty players are listed as some are tied with the same SDI rating.

Overall SDI Leaderboard

  1. Mookie Betts – 11.9 (NL1)
  2. Ke’Bryan Hayes – 11.6 (NL2)
  3. Jose Trevino – 11.1 (AL1)
  4. Steven Kwan – 11.0 (AL2)
  5. Nolan Arenado – 10.7 (NL3)
  6. Christian Walker – 10.4 (NL4)
  7. Myles Straw – 9.3 (AL3)
  8. Brendan Rodgers – 8.9 (NL5)
  9. Jeremy Peña – 8.2 (AL4)
  10. Josh Donaldson – 7.8 (AL5)
  11. Hoerner – 7.6 (NL6 – T)
  12. Tommy Edman – 7.6 (NL6 – T)
  13. Ha-Seong Kim – 7.4 (NL7)
  14. Andrew Velazquez – 7.3 (AL6)
  15. Ramón Urias – 7.1 (AL7)
  16. Adley Rutschman – 7.0 (AL8)
  17. Jonathan Schoop – 6.9 (AL9)
  18. Cal Raleigh – 6.7 (AL10 – T)
  19. Michael A. Taylor – 6.7 (AL10 – T)
  20. Dansby Swanson – 6.5 (NL – 8)
  21. J.T. Realmuto – 6.5 (NL8 – T)
  22. Miguel Rojas – 6.1 (NL9)
  23. Víctor Robles – 6.0 (NL10)

Hoerner is also a top-ten player on the Statcast Outs Above Average (OAA) leaderboard, ranked second among MLB shortstops.

  1. Schoop – 23 (1)
  2. Edman – 17 (2)
  3. Swanson – 16 (3)
  4. Arenado – 15 (T4)
  5. Hoerner – 15 (T4)
  6. Hayes – 14 (5)
  7. Walker – 13 (6)
  8. Daulton Varsho – 12 (7)
  9. Max Kepler – 11 (T8)
  10. Nicky Lopez – 11 (T8)
  11. Brett Phillips – 11 (T8)
  12. José Siri – 11 (T8)
  13. Santiago Espinal – 10 (T9)
  14. Andrés Giménez – 10 (T9)
  15. Francisco Lindor – 10 (T9)

Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer had the following comments about Hoerner and his skills:

I will transcribe them below as the screenshot posted by Jordan Bastian is not accessible for visually impaired readers:

“From an offensive standpoint, candidly, he’s probably very much along the lines of where we expected. We thought he was going to be a high-average hitter. He grinds every at-bat. He’s exactly the kind of guy you don’t want to play against. It’s awesome having him on our side. Defensively, honestly, he’s really exceeded our expectations at shortstop. I think we always knew he could do it. I think the question was whether he could do it sort of at an above-average level, and he’s made it really clear he can. Kudos to him. And, beside the offensive and defensive part, he’s a great teammate, plays hard every day. So there’s much to like about him as a player.

Here’s hoping Hoyer sees a lot to like about offering his future All-Star and individual Gold Glove winner an extension this winter.

What do you think?

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