Sure, there are holes in Patrick Wisdom’s game – but no one is ever going to claim he doesn’t hit the ball hard. En route to setting a Cubs rookie home run record in 2021, he drove the ball out of the yard at a staggering pace, and now it’s all eyes on Wisdom as he looks to avoid a sophomore slump.
Coming off Chicago’s extra-inning victory over the Braves on Wednesday night, in which Wisdom belted a late two-run home run, the 30-year-old infielder carries a 134 OPS+, due largely in part to his .491 slugging percentage. That’s largely in line with what he did last season, although there are some key differentiators that stand out.
After ranking below the league average in walk rate in 2021, Wisdom has shown early improvements this year, clocking in at the 68th percentile. The big hole in his game, unfortunately, remains the strikeout. He’s in the bottom five percent of the league in strikeout rate (36.5 percent) – but has cut that mark pretty substantially from 2021 (40.8 percent).
He’s definitely hit the ball hard – but he’s also done something we’ve seen Cubs players up and down the lineup fall victim to – hitting the ball on the ground. His ground ball rate is up 10 percent year-over-year and if there’s one thing we don’t need Wisdom doing, it’s hitting the ball on the ground.
The 2012 first-rounder is barreling the ball more than ever before, but he’ll need to do more damage against fastballs. He carries a .171 xBA against heaters in 2021 – and with his power, he’ll need to find a way to put bat to ball more regularly.
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At this point, Wisdom is still the clear-cut guy to turn to at the hot corner. Jonathan Villar has been a disaster defensively and there’s just not another viable option to play there regularly. If all you were looking for was for him to maintain what he did in 2021, so far at least, things are off to a good start.