It Exists: Video of Nick Madrigal Making a Play a Third Base
OK. It’s a start. It’s a specific type of play and it’s from kind of far away. But I’ve been asking for video of Nick Madrigal playing third base this spring. I’m not going to argue when I get it.
Here’s Madrigal charging in to make a play at third on a chopper:
Am I going to do it? Am I going to evaluate a player’s defensive ability on a single video, of practice, from that angle?
IT’S FEBRUARY! WHAT ELSE DO YOU EXPECT ME TO DO?!
So what I see there is good quickness to the ball and an athletic field-and-transfer. A good approach on a tough, but playable, bouncer. What I also see, though, is a throw with noticeable fade and not a lot of velocity. The throw is necessarily off-balance, so you have to keep that in mind. But it doesn’t get to first base with quite the oomph you’d want to see from a third baseman, all else equal. I don’t think it looks horrible, but neither does it jump off the screen as surprisingly strong. (The arm strength has been the concern at third base with the Madrigal experiment, so that’s why I belabor it.)
That said … it’s a single video, of practice, from that angle. You cannot possibly draw CONCLUSIONS from this. I’m glad that we’re going to get to see some game action with Madrigal at third (at least I assume that’s where this is going), and I hope he gets a whole lotta balls hit his way. That’s what we really need to get even a modest sense of whether the arm will play at third. I think the quickness will play. The first step is good, the gathering ability is good. The arm is really the only question.
For his part, manager Davis Ross is saying publicly that the arm will play.
“I’ve been impressed,” Ross told reporters Thursday at Cubs camp in Mesa, Arizona, per The Score. “He’s moving really well. Feels like a totally different player than we saw last year where he looked like he was guarded at times and it was hard work to run. The first ball that was hit to him in the infield – (Cubs bench coach Andy Green) hit it pretty hard after hitting balls in the gap on the infield, outfield – moved his feet, gobbled it up well and threw a nice strong throw. He’s moving well. The arm strength is there.”
Because the Cubs still believe in Madrigal’s bat, and because Nico Hoerner is going to be the near-every-day starter at second base, the Cubs want to at least see if there’s playability at third base. That doesn’t mean he can or would become the everyday starter there, but you want to know what you have available as an option. I may be circumspect about it actually working in the regular season, but I have zero issue with the Cubs and Madrigal working on it in the spring.