After starting the season with an incredible power display in April, Patrick Wisdom is making George Clinton look like an amateur. By which I mean he’s in a deep funk that even a flashlight and atomic dog might not be enough to guide him out of.
Through his first 102 plate appearances, the slugging third baseman had 10 home runs and a 155 wRC+, more than good enough to offset a nearly 34% strikeout rate. More than a month later, those 10 dingers would still sit atop the Cubs’ leaderboard. Unfortunately for both Wisdom and the team, however, his production has fallen off a cliff since those home run showers.
May brought anything but flowers, as Wisdom batted .162 with just four homers and saw his K-rate rise to nearly 40% in 79 PAs. His 75 wRC+ was less than half of what he’d generated in the previous month, though at least he was walking at almost a 13% clip. June has proven to be even worse, albeit in an admittedly small sample, dragging the numbers down further.
Wisdom has struck out 12 times in 19 plate appearances and has just one hit, a single, and one walk so far in the month. His .056 batting average only looks good when compared to his -57 wRC+, which says he’s been 157% worse than the average hitter when it comes to producing runs. Ian Happ‘s power outage since early May is concerning, but Wisdom’s slump has absolutely crippled an offense that simply can’t afford to make up that kind of production deficit.
I can’t believe I’m saying it again, but it’s time for the Cubs to bring Nick Madrigal back and hand him the reins at third base. With two more hits Thursday night, including his third triple for the I-Cubs, Madrigal is batting .488 with a 1.434 OPS and a 256 wRC+ since being demoted. His production at the MLB level with the Cubs has not been deserving of a regular role, but what have they got to lose at this point? Other than a bunch more games, of course.
Many will also advocate for Christopher Morel, who has been in a pretty ugly stretch of his own lately, but it’s become pretty clear that the Cubs don’t see him as a third baseman. Or as holding down any particular spot, which was illustrated by them giving him some pregame work at first base prior to their June 5 game in San Diego. Morel hasn’t played since then and appears to have been given the Angels series off to clear his head.
Following his incredible stretch of nine homers in 52 PAs — putting him second on the team to Wisdom — Morel is just 2-for-29 with a pair of singles and one run. That .069 batting average isn’t going to draw a “Nice!” and the -21 wRC+ that goes along with it is pretty awful. Still better than what Wisdom has done lately, but that bar is so low it’s buried.
The possibility exists that Wisdom will pull out of this nosedive and start crushing longballs again, at which point you can excuse the strikeouts. But if he’s not hitting for power regularly, the Cubs are going to have to move in a different direction. I hate that because he seems like a really good dude, but that doesn’t mean much if his performance continues to be detrimental to a team that needs to figure out how to get better in a hurry.