Chicago Cubs 2023 Season Preview: Infielder Patrick Wisdom
As the Cubs start turning the corner on their rebuild and look to return to the postseason, it'll be interesting to see what type of role Patrick Wisdom carves out for himself. A strikeout-prone bat with big-time power, the 31-year-old former first-rounder will look to build on some of the improvements we saw from him at the dish last year.
Cubs: Patrick Wisdom brings big-time power and a ton of strikeouts
The owner of a 102 OPS+ and .725 OPS in 2022, Wisdom led all Cubs hitters with 25 home runs and trailed only Ian Happ with 66 runs batted in and 28 doubles. The pop in his bat has never been in question; whether or not he can make contact consistently enough to claim a job in the starting lineup, though, is very much debatable.
In 2021, Wisdom broke Kris Bryant's Cubs rookie record for home runs in a season - and he made some nice strides the following year: he cut his strikeout rate from 40.8 to 34.3 percent while improving his walk rate from 8.5 to 9.9 percent. Still, he ranked in the bottom one percent of qualified hitters in strikeout rate and xBA, while also checking in at the third percentile in whiff rate.
On the flip side of the coin, he ranked in the 93rd percentile in barrel rate, the 82nd in hard hit rate and the 81st in average exit velocity - further evidence that when he does make contact, he's capable of doing some serious damage.
2023 Fangraphs ZiPS Projections: .214/.300/.444, 109 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR, 26 HR, 63 RBI
2023 Baseball Reference Projections: .220/.300/.432, 24 HR, 65 RBI, 23 2B
Both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference anticipate more of the same from Wisdom in 2023: a lot of power and a lot of strikeouts. The question becomes whether or not he can hold down a long-term role on this team without further slashing his strikeouts or finding a way to make contact more often.
The Cubs don't have a clear-cut replacement at third base to supplant Wisdom (at least not if they actually deploy Christopher Morel as a utilityman as discussed this winter) - so he might get a longer leash than he might otherwise. What we're going to see from Wisdom isn't really in doubt. It's just a matter of determining how long that skillset suits the Cubs' needs.