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BCB After Dark: I don’t know is on third

The swingin’ spot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks you who is going to be the Cubs primary third baseman in 2022.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets - Game Two Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the night spot for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We hope you’re having a good week. Please come on in and enjoy yourself for a while before turning in for the night. The hostess will show you to a table. Make yourself at home—but keep your pants on. Bring your own beverage.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

Last night I asked you how confident you were that left-hander Justin Steele would earn a spot in the Cubs rotation—and keep it—for 2022. On a scale of 1 to 5, 45 percent of you gave that proposition a “3,” meaning you were really undecided about it. On the positive side for Steele, only 17 percent rated the chances as a “1” or “2” and 38 percent thought his chances were a “4” or a “5,” meaning that you thought it was very likely that he would.

On Tuesday nights/Wednesday mornings I don’t do a movie essay, but you can always go back and read what I wrote yesterday about 1958’s Terror in a Texas Town. But I always have time for some jazz, so those of you who skip that can do so now. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Jazz guitar legend George Benson turned 79 years young on Tuesday, so I thought it only fitting that we feature Benson on his birthday. He’s a live clip from him from 1986 playing the Paul Desmond-written, Dave Brubeck classic “Take Five.” “Take Five” is a tough enough song to play on the piano, but Benson here just rips through it on guitar. On top of that, to use a hard rock term, Benson just shreds in the middle here. Eddie Van Halen had nothing on George Benson.

And because it’s Benson’s birthday, I’m going to include a bonus video of Benson playing the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil classic “On Broadway.” I’ve featured it here before, but because I like it so much, I’m doing it again for Benson’s birthday. This is a live performance in Vienna in 2011.

Welcome back to those of you who skip all that jazz.

The ghost runner or whatever you want to call it in extra innings is back, but I figured that you were probably pretty tired of being asked about that and I also figured that you’re going to get asked about that again tomorrow. So I thought I’d ditch my plans to ask about the extra innings rule and turn instead to the Cubs third base position.

It was a running joke for decades that the Cubs were unable to replace Ron Santo at third base as it seemed that no one could hang on to the position for more than a year or two. That all ended when the Cubs traded for Aramis Ramirez in 2003 and he held the hot corner down until 2011. The Cubs then got three solid seasons out of Luis Valbuena before he stepped aside for Kris Bryant.

So third base hasn’t really been a problem for the Cubs for a while now. Even Bryant got moved to the outfield last season (before his trade) to make room for 29-year-old rookie Patrick Wisdom. No one was expecting much out of Wisdom in 2021. He was in the minors until late May and then he exploded to set the team record for home runs by a rookie with 28.

Wisdom was undoubtedly a major find for the Cubs in 2021. But unfortunately, there were some dark clouds to his silver lining. For one, despite the 28 home runs, Wisdom struck out in over 40 percent of his plate appearances, and that just isn’t sustainable. He certainly cooled off in September and there were signs that the league was catching up to him.

Still, when Wisdom makes contact, he has some elite power. Sure, he strikes out more than anyone else in the league, but his hard contact rates are also among the best in the league. Wisdom is also pretty good defensively.

Rather than just ignore the red flags and roll with Wisdom in 2022, the Cubs signed switch-hitting free agent utility player Jonathan Villar. Villar can play second, third or short, but he was also the Mets primary third baseman in 2021. Just two years ago in 2019, he was one of the better players in the American League when he posted a 4.3 bWAR for the Orioles. Villar may not have the upside of Wisdom, but he’s a lot more dependable. Villar is also just three months older than Wisdom, but he has about 3400 more major league plate appearances.

So who will get the most games at third base for the Cubs in 2022? Wisdom or Villar? Or maybe someone else? In some ways this question is a referendum on Wisdom because if he lives up to his potential, he’s going to be the everyday third baseman. But should he play like he did in September, Villar is likely going to get more and more games at third.

Of course, one could get injured and then the other one will play third base. It’s also possible that Villar ends up playing shortstop too much to get a lot of reps at third base.

A platoon is certainly possible, but that would benefit the switch-hitting Villar since Wisdom bats right-handed. On the other hand, neither Wisdom nor Villar has much of a career platoon differential. Based on their career splits, platooning Wisdom and Villar probably would be a waste of time.

So who will get the most games at third for the Cubs in 2022?


Who will play the most games at third base for the Cubs in 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Jonathan Villar
    (93 votes)
  • 54%
    Patrick Wisdom
    (122 votes)
  • 4%
    Someone else
    (10 votes)
225 votes total Vote Now

Thanks again for stopping by. Please get home safely. We’ll call you a ride if you need one. Tip your waitstaff. Tell your friends. And stop by again tomorrow night for another show at BCB After Dark.