Every week, we break down a different MLB shortstop to examine — good or bad. Maybe it's an MLB top prospect, a “flavor of the month” on the fantasy baseball waiver wire, or someone who could be “sell-high” trade bait. Sometimes, it's a superstar or burgeoning player who is turning in the season we were all hoping for and rising up fantasy baseball rankings. In this edition of the Fantasy Alarm Player Spotlight series, we will turn our attention to Nico Hoerner. The underrated Chicago Cubs’ shortstop has been on fire over the last month and is worth a speculative add if you need MI help for the stretch run. What are some MLB projections and fantasy baseball expectations for Hoerner for the rest of the season? Here we will break down Hoerner’s hot stretch and if it can continue for the last two months of the season.
Nico Hoerner Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight
Despite the fact that the offense for the Chicago Cubs has fallen off a cliff in July (39 runs and 67 wRC+, both 28th in the majors), there has been one true consistent bright spot for them over the last month: Nico Hoerner.
Hoerner’s last 30 days at the plate have been phenomenal. In that time, he leads all shortstops in batting average (.358) and on-base percentage (.405). He has two homers and three steals and also possesses the best strikeout rate at the position (just 11.2%). But looking at the brilliance over the last month almost diminishes how good Hoerner has been all season long.
Below are Hoerner’s month-by-month splits for the 2022 season.
April and May would be considered his “down” months, but even those produced a league-average offensive production. Both June and July have been well above league average to date. Add in his five home runs and nine steals on the season and we are looking at a player who could legitimately be a .300/10-homer/20-steal player in 2022.
Both of those players were consensus top-two round draft picks heading into 2022. Hoerner was selected as the 432nd player off the board, on average, by the end of Spring Training.
Can Hoerner’s Surprising Season Continue?
Of course, what jumps out from Hoerner’s production is he only had three career home runs coming into 2022 and did not have a single bomb in 2021 or 2020. He also only had eight total steals in more than 375 plate appearances before this year. But he began his career in 2019 as just a very-young 22-year-old and just recently turned 25. Is it possible that Hoerner is developing slightly more power and speed as he matures and develops? Let’s find out.
The best sign for Hoerner’s hit profile is that his groundballs have decreased and his flyballs have increased every year of his career. While those have been swapping places, his line drive rate has consistently stayed between 21%-25% for four years. As mentioned above, he now has an elite strikeout rate (10.7%) which is the best of his career and his average exit velocity is more than 1.5 miles per hour faster than last year.
In terms of plate discipline, his contact rate is up (85.5%, the highest of his career), his swinging strike rate is down (7.1%, also the best), and his 93% zone contact rate is now top-20 in all of baseball.
Nico Hoerner is Widely Available in Leagues
Perhaps due to myriad reasons, Hoerner is widely available in a number of fantasy leagues as we creep towards the two-thirds mark of the season. Just in Yahoo leagues, Hoerner is just 43% rostered at the time of writing, a site where he has both 2B and SS eligibility.
If your fantasy squad is in need of middle infield help, or could use a boost in average, runs, or stolen bases, Hoerner made be a player you can get for next to nothing that can help you move up those precious few spots in the standings.
Considering his age and progression, this is clearly a player on the ascent, although one that can still be had for bargain-basement prices.
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Related MLB Links:
- Previous Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Targets
- 2022 MLB Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report
- 2022 MLB Injury Report
- Fantasy Baseball Daily Round Ups
- Fantasy Baseball Closer Reports