It’s that time of the season for the Cubs.
The Rookie of the Year race showed up on the North Side this week, landing onto Waveland Avenue in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s first game of a doubleheader against the Rockies — last seen bouncing toward September as one of the few things worth watching for Cubs fans the rest of the season.
Patrick Wisdom’s bleacher-clearing shot was his 21st home run — in 79 games — and not only helped win a 5-2 decision for the Cubs but also put him in shouting distance of a few key Cubs benchmarks.
And, perhaps, a five-week moon-shot chance at becoming the Cubs’ first Rookie of the Year since Kris Bryant in 2015 — first during a non-playoff season for the team since Ken Hubbs during the 103-loss 1962 season.
For the 30 of us who have a National League Rookie of the Year vote this year, it’s time to start bearing down on the progress of Wisdom, Cincinnati second baseman Jonathan India, Marlins starting pitcher Trevor Rogers and a few others.
What if a voter gave Cubs manager David Ross his ballot — as one press box wag suggested after the doubleheader opener?
“If I really had a vote, I’d vote for my guy,” Ross said. “If it was yours, I would probably be unbiased. But if it was mine, I’d vote for Patrick every day of the week.”
Give Ross credit for honesty with the unbiased evaluation:
“I haven’t followed everybody, but I probably would put [Wisdom] right behind Jonathan India from my standpoint,” Ross said. “I think India’s had a nice season with Cincinnati and taken off at the top of that lineup. I feel that team really offensively got going when they slotted him into that leadoff spot.
“For me, Wiz is right there for me in that conversation, maybe one or two.”
That’s where the final five weeks of the season matter so much for Wisdom — who unlike India and Rogers has not played the whole season.
Wisdom, who turns 30 on Friday, didn’t make his season debut until May 25, when he replaced the injured Matt Duffy on the roster.
Through Wednesday’s first game, he had 21 homers and 44 RBIs in 79 games, along with an ‘864 OPS and, ahem, 102 strikeouts.
One more homer ties him for the league lead with the dearly departed Javy Báez (now with the Mets) and puts him in position to become the first rookie to lead the Cubs in homers since Ray Grimes exactly 100 years ago.
Five more and he tied Bryant’s franchise rookie record.
Just this week, he told NBC Sports Chicago’s Maddie Lee that he’s not thinking about all the end-of-year awards and achievements.
“I just go out there every day and just play hard,” he told Lee. “Those accolades will happen at the end of the year if they’re meant to happen.”