Since he came off the Injured List for his groin strain, Nick Madrigal is RAKING to the tune of .333/.444/.400/145 wRC+. If you’d like to just have that happy thought, then I encourage you to leave this place right now and read no further.
The glaringly obvious “but” for that stat line is that we’re talking about 19 plate appearances. You cannot actually take anything clear away from it beyond the visual fact that, yes, he’s made some better contact this time around – it hasn’t all been weak grounders. So that’s good! But much, much more is needed.
You COULD even go back to his first return from the IL on May 31, and include that stretch to make it 50 plate appearances at .295/.354/.318/93 wRC+ (8.0% BB, 12.0% K). Nope, still not the numbers you’d need to see from a defensively-limited player, but maybe squintable as something approaching OK?
Still needs much, much more time for us to even start to feel heartened that his early-career success was the real guy, and this season’s implosion was a fluke that will never return.
In other words, there is only so much you can say about a short, positive streak in a season that has otherwise been an absolute disaster for a guy. But the reality is that the Cubs are clearly hoping that Nick Madrigal can and has stabilized his performance after disruptions from his major injury, his rehab, the lockout, a new organization, limited experience, and so on and so on. It’s why he came back to the big leagues so quickly after his last rehab stint, and it’s why he’s going to play almost every day the rest of the way. The Cubs want to know where he is and what he can be for 2023.
Maybe we’re finally starting to see a bit of that. Maybe it’s just been a decent week, and more disappointment looms. Either way, I still don’t think the Cubs can walk into the offseason assuming that Madrigal is THE GUY at second base for 2023. He can be an option. Maybe even a great option. But that should not dictate offseason planning if other opportunities become available, which may require more time at second base for, say, Nico Hoerner. You have to make the impact additions where you can, and then sort out the playing time later.
A nice moment tonight for Madrigal, by the way, after seen his former teammates have such a special experience in Iowa last year: