Whether you like him for his piercing gaze or jaw-dropping power, odds are Patrick Wisdom got your attention this season. But despite his impressive performance, the simple truth is this: the Chicago Cubs infielder has no shot at winning National League Rookie of the Year.
When the dust settles and the ballots are tabulated, either Jonathan India of the Cincinnati Reds or Trevor Rogers of the Miami Marlins is going to come away with the hardware. Both turned in remarkable seasons, with India becoming a staple in the Reds’ order and Rogers emerging among the Marlins’ sea of promising young arms.
Don’t let that take anything away from Wisdom, though. He eclipsed Kris Bryant’s franchise rookie record for home runs, smacking 28 long balls in just 106 contests. His 2.3 WAR ranked fourth on the team, trailing Willson Contreras, Javier Baez and Craig Kimbrel. With the team re-tooling and moving on from its World Series-winning core, Wisdom will undoubtedly head into 2022 with the inside track on a starting job in Chicago.
But the simple truth is this. He’ll get some down-ballot attention from voters, but he’s far from the league’s best rookie.
Wisdom is a walking embodiment of baseball’s three true outcome problem. Yes, he’s got mad power – evidenced by the fact he ranked among the league’s best hitters in hard hit rate, barrel rate and max exit velocity this season. But he strikes out a lot and has a much more one-dimensional offensive presence than someone like India.
Given the glaring holes in the Cubs lineup after Jed Hoyer’s midseason sell-off, Wisdom made a ton of sense to get everyday reps. And, for the most part, he made the most of the opportunity. But if he’s to have a long-term stay in Chicago, he’s got to make some dramatic adjustments moving forward.
Chicago Cubs: Patrick Wisdom has to cut down on the strikeouts
His strikeout rate, which sat north of 40 percent this year, flies in the face of the new offensive identity the team seems to be eyeing. High contact, on-base guys like Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal are the way of the future, which doesn’t bode well for someone like Wisdom.
But if he can cut down on the swing-and-miss tendencies, even just a bit, there’s a place for Wisdom on this team – for multiple reasons.
- Just because he’s a three true outcome player doesn’t mean he can’t fit in a new offensive philosophy. Pairing his power with more on-base-focused bats ahead of him could wind up improving his value and give him more opportunities to drive in runs.
- We don’t yet know what or if the Cubs will spend this offseason. There are a few different ways things could shake out and the looming CBA discussions lend a whole new level of uncertainty to things. Wisdom makes the league minimum and it’s hard to replace his level of production at that cost.
All this to say Patrick Wisdom won’t come home with National League Rookie of the Year for his work this season. But he’s got potential to build on his breakout 2021 showing and play an important role on the next Cubs contender.