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2023 Cubs player profiles: Patrick Wisdom, holding down the fort

The seventh in a series of capsule biographies. Patrick Wisdom had led the Cubs in home runs the last two seasons, and might do so again this season, as he is in the lead now. He strikes out roughly five times as many times as he hits a home run, and he hits a lot of home runs.

Seattle Mariners v Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

I’m not going to get into a detailed by-the-numbers analysis of Patrick Wisdom here. It’s not my stock-in-trade to do so, and so I shan’t. I will link to his BBRef and Fangraphs pages wherefrom you may draw your own conclusions, and we will have some counting numbers in this document.

31-year-old Patrick Wisdom is the Cubs’ starting third baseman despite repeated attempts to install other third basemen. He’s not the best third baseman in the Major Leagues, far from it. His swing has more holes in it than a round of baby Swiss. He’s either pretty good at third base defense, or pretty bad, depending on the year. He doesn’t drive in a lot of runs, considering how many home runs he hits.

So far this year, the eye test says his defense is back, and he has a third (six) of the team’s home runs (18), three more than Yan Gomes, who will be profiled next week, and is now leading the team in RBI with 10, tied with Cody Bellinger after they both homered Sunday. That’s one more than fan favorite Eric Hosmer, who likewise defies common logic and gets put in the lineup every day, Trey Mancini, same, and Ian Happ also check in with nine RBI entering Monday’s action..

One also notices that Wisdom now leads the team in total bases (32) through Sunday’s game, and these “different” statistics start to tell a slightly different story, perhaps the one David Ross reads when he gets out the pen for the final lineups.

Like it or not, unless something changes drastically, Wisdom is likely to play the same role next year. He’s going to be an ARB1, not terribly expensive insurance against a possible complete lack of Matt Chapman. Pretty much the only other 2024 free agent worth a look is former Cub Jeimer Candelario. In-system you have David Bote, Jake Slaughter, Nick Madrigal. Slaughter has potential but I don’t think he’s an MLB-quality starter just yet.

That’s probably in what David Ross reads, too.

I didn’t know he liked horror.

Wisdom is at this point, probably there until someone better shows up, short of some kind of Jed Hoyer blockbuster (who would you trade for Anthony Rendon?), he’s going to stay until there’s someone better.

And of course, that’s the issue, for (from Wikipedia):

Wisdom finished the 2021 season batting .231/.305/.518 with 28 home runs, 61 RBIs, and 163 strikeouts (9th in the NL) in 106 games. He struck out in 44.1% of his at bats against left-handers, the highest percentage in the major leagues, and struck out in 40.8% of all of his at bats.

In 2022 he led the majors in strikeout rate (34.3%), and batted .207/.298/.426 with 25 home runs, 66 RBIs, and 183 strikeouts (2nd in the NL) in 134 games, while at third base he was second in the league in errors (14).

You have to think they could find someone better.

On the other hand, he seems to get along well with his teammates, is good with the fans, and can dance. All of those have to count for something. Not as much as fixing the throwing errors, which had various causes, and not as much as dropping the strikeout rate another five points (33.1 right now) and upping the walk rate (13.25 percent in 2023) by the same amount.

“As always, we await developments.”