Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel are both far past the age of most “rookie” players in Major League Baseball. Wisdom turned 30 in August and Schwindel will pass that milestone next May.
For various reasons, neither got much of a chance to play in the major leagues before this year. Schwindel was blocked in the Royals and Athletics organizations and the Cardinals gave up on Wisdom after making him a first-round pick (52nd overall) in 2012.
Tuesday, both Cubs were named to MLB Pipeline’s All-Rookie team, Wisdom to the first team and Schwindel to the second team.
We’ve talked about these two at length here, so I don’t think I need to fill in too many details of their seasons. Neither will win Rookie of the Year in the National League (that seems likely to go to the Reds’ Jonathan India), but Wisdom was third among all rookies in home runs with 28 (and broke Kris Bryant’s team rookie record) and Schwindel hit 13 home runs in only 56 games with the Cubs and posted a .613 slugging percentage.
Could these two be contributing full-time players for the Cubs going forward? It’s rare for a player to blossom in the major leagues at 30 or beyond, but it has been done. Players of recent vintage who have done so include Ryan Ludwick, Justin Turner and Max Muncy, though it should be noted that those three all had more MLB playing time than Wisdom or Schwindel before their breakout seasons.
For Wisdom to be a credible MLB starting player, he’ll have to cut down on the strikeouts. For Schwindel, he’ll have to show he can perform at this level for more than a third of a season.
Nevertheless, it’s a good thing to see these two Cubs recognized by MLB as among the top first-year players in 2021. Hopefully they can keep it going in 2022.