The 2022 Major League Baseball season is underway and the first home run of the new season belongs to an unlikely player: Chicago Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner. Thursday afternoon (GameTracker), Hoerner took Milwaukee Brewers ace and reigning NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes deep for a go-ahead two-run home run at Wrigley Field.
Here is Hoerner's blast, which is the first of several thousand home runs that will be hit this season:
Hoerner is a high-contact bat control specialist, and he did not hit a home run in 324 plate appearances between the majors and minors from 2020-21. This is his first homer since Sept. 21, 2019. Burnes, it should be noted, allowed only seven home runs in 167 innings last season. He led baseball with a 0.38 HR/9 rate.
"The goal both last year and 2020 was to get stronger and more explosive," Hoerner told 670 The Score's Bruce Levine in spring training. "... You get information from a full year and my relationships in the training room and on the field are better because of that. We are all constantly learning as a group."
Hoerner is the second Cubs player in the last five seasons to hit the first home run of the new MLB season, joining Ian Happ in 2018. Happ went deep on the very first pitch of the year in 2018. Miguel Cabrera hit the first home run of the 2021 season, Giancarlo Stanton did it in 2020, and Stephen Piscotty did it in 2019.
The Cubs are playing Hoerner at shortstop because offseason pickup Andrelton Simmons is on the injured list with a shoulder issue. The 24-year-old former first-round pick came into the season as a career .272/.342/.349 hitter with three home runs in 112 big-league games.