Wisdom dancing into Rookie of the Year conversation

USA Today

Patrick Wisdom danced in between reps, leaving a latticework of footprints beside third base before the Cubs’ series opener Monday against the Rockies.

The Cubs’ franchise-record home losing streak hadn’t dampened Wisdom’s usual pregame pep. And though he wouldn’t put it this way, Wisdom’s personal performance this season has given him plenty to dance about.

“I wouldn’t say ‘prove’ is the right word,” Wisdom told NBC Sports Chicago when asked about his goals for the rest of the season, “but just going out there showing that I can play and finish the season strong. And let's get some more wins in the W column. That would definitely be a nice touch.”

Hours later, Wisdom was a big part of the Cubs’ come-from-behind win against the Rockies on Monday, snapping the Wrigley Field losing streak. It was another example of how Wisdom has played himself into the NL Rookie of the Year conversation. His bases-loaded line drive to center field in the eighth inning started the game-tying rally that set up Rafael Ortega for a walk-off home run.

Add Wisdom’s RBI single to a highlight reel this week that includes home runs in back-to-back games against the Royals. With Saturday’s blast, Wisdom hit the 20-homer mark, leading NL rookies. He also became the seventh Cubs rookie to hit that many home runs in a season.


But wait, there’s more: Wisdom leads current Cubs in the same category. He’s just two homers away from the team-leading 22 bombs Javy Báez hit before being traded to the Mets. NBC Sports Chicago’s Gordon Wittenmyer combed through 100 years of Cubs home run leaders to find the last time a rookie finished the season at the top of the list: 1921. That year Ray Grimes tied veteran Max Flack for the team lead of six homers.

Wisdom, of course, has heard “whispers” of the Rookie of the Year talk he’s generating with his power bat and cannon of an arm.

“I just go out there every day and just play hard,” he said. “Those accolades will happen at the end of the year if they’re meant to happen.”

Does it feel weird to be talking about rookie awards at this point in his career?

“For sure,” the 29-year-old said, laughing, “because age-wise I feel like I’m older than a lot of the guys. But in terms of (major-league) baseball years, I’m definitely a rookie.”

The Cardinals selected Wisdom in the supplemental first round (No. 52 overall) of the 2012 MLB Draft. But until this season, Wisdom hadn’t logged any prolonged stints in the big leagues. The closest he came was 2018, when he debuted in mid-August and played 32 games with St. Louis.

The next year, his playing time dropped to nine games with the Rangers. During the shortened 2020 season, Wisdom made two late-inning appearances for the Cubs.

“It's just a guy that's gotten to a point in his career, that he's taken advantage of an opportunity,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “When you get real opportunity to play on a regular basis, and you've been through the rollercoaster of a professional player, and the ups and downs, and getting to know yourself a little bit better. … And he's done a nice job of staying consistent in his approach and riding the ups and downs of the season.”

Going up against NL favorites Trevor Rogers (Miami) and Jonathan India (Cincinnati) for Rookie of the Year, Wisdom’s strikeout numbers will likely hurt his chances. Wisdom (38.8 K%) logged his 100th strikeout of the season on Monday.

He’s the type of hitter, however, that the Cubs are in short supply of post-trade deadline.

Last season, the Cubs liked what they saw in Wisdom enough to re-sign him to a minor league contract in January. Now that he’s given them an extended offensive boost, it remains to be seen if the Cubs will make him a part of their long-term plans.


“I would love to stay here, obviously,” Wisdom said. “It's been a great place to play. They're tremendous from the top to the bottom. I really enjoy it here, and I have a lot of fun with everyone in this organization.

“So, we'll see what happens at the end of the season. I have no idea what the front office has in store, and so I just take it day to day, and we look forward to the next game.”

Chances are, before that next game, Wisdom will still be dancing.

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