Cubs infielder Patrick Wisdom popped up this week in a post by Driveline, where the 32-year-old former first-rounder is working out this winter. The quick takeaway? He looks jacked - although his physical fitness has never been an issue. Still, he looked good.
What role Wisdom will play on the 2024 Cubs - or even if he'll be on the roster given his value as a power-hitting trade chip - remains to be seen. But if Jed Hoyer either doesn't find a match or opts to keep him in the fold as a role player, how he was utilized this year gives us an idea what a path forward might look like for him in Chicago.
After bursting onto the scene as a feel-good story after the 2021 trade deadline sell-off, in which Wisdom replaced Kris Bryant and proceeded to set the franchise rookie home run record, the 2022 campaign saw him come back to earth in a big way as the strikeouts and swing-and-miss in his game reared their ugly heads.
Cubs need to pick their spots carefully with Patrick Wisdom in 2024
In 2023, David Ross picked his spots with Wisdom - evidenced by the fact he had over 200 fewer plate appearances than the year prior - and the results speak for themselves. A bounceback in his slugging percentage and a strong showing when paired up against left-handed starters (a .947 OPS) offers an idea of how new manager Craig Counsell could get his money's worth out of Wisdom.
Then again, if Jed Hoyer doesn't address the corner infield spots, Wisdom could wind up seeing more playing time than expected - getting looks at third and first. But he's best served as a bench bat, at this point, where matchups favor him (for example, change-up heavy guys) or guys who tend to pound the zone. His defense, which has been abysmal for two years now, should only further motivate the club to pick their spots meaningfully moving forward.
Hopefully, his work at Driveline is helping him find a way to put bat-to-ball a bit more, because when he does, big things happen. Remember - despite reduced at-bats, he still put up almost identical power numbers as the year prior. Now, it's on Counsell and the Cubs to find how to tap into that in the right spots, while limiting unfavorable matchups for the veteran.