Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom taking advice from ‘Ted Lasso’ to heart as he works to flush mistakes
When Patrick Wisdom burst onto the scene with the Cubs in 2021, his power was the thing that stood out first.
After all, he did set a new Cubs rookie record with 28 home runs.
But that season, he proved to be more than just a slugger as he showed off both versatility and skill on the defensive side of the ball.
In 2021, Wisdom registered +4 Defensive Runs Saved in more than 570 innings at third base and recorded a 0.4 defensive WAR by Baseball Reference’s metric.
However, things have taken a turn since then (at least according to the defensive analytics) as Wisdom has negative marks in those categories since the start of 2022. This season, Baseball Reference has him at -0.7 dWAR and he has a -5 DRS mark at third base.
His struggles in the field culminated in Thursday’s loss where he made 2 errors (his 9th and 10th of the season).
The Cubs still believe Wisdom can get back to the defender he was in 2021 on a consistent basis. It’s a matter of turning the page and not putting so much pressure on himself.
“I think the thing that Patrick has to continue to work on — and he knows this — is being able to flush the mistakes,” David Ross said. “Not one mistake turning into two. You have to be able to let some things go. He cares — we talk about guys that care so much and try harder. I don’t think that benefits him.
“Just turn the page on some of those mistakes and understanding that mistakes are going to happen. We’re OK with physical mistakes but when they turn into mental and it’s affecting other parts of our game, that’s the part where it just feels like sometimes they compound for him.”
After Thursday’s game, Wisdom rebounded to play solid defense in the rest of the series against the Cardinals, including a pair of nice plays in the 8th inning of Saturday’s win.
Wisdom agrees that he needs to improve on flushing his mistakes and to stop pressing.
“I have a high expectation of myself and I hold myself to a high standard,” Wisdom said. “I think when those things happen, of course I’m gonna be upset at myself. Are there better ways to handle that? Sure. At the end of the day, I care — almost too much.”
Nobody is asking Wisdom to stop caring. But it’s about forgiving himself for a physical mistake and learning to let go instead of entering a downward spiral.
Last season, Wisdom admitted his offense carried over into the field. So a strikeout or a bad at-bat would lead to mental or physical lapses at third base.
He spent all offseason and Spring Training working on improving that area of his game and he doesn’t feel it has been a factor at all this year.
And a quote from fictional coach Ted Lasso helped him reach that point.
“Mental skills, understanding, perspective — there’s a lot of things that go into it,” Wisdom said. “Also, I think a major component is just relaxing, not white-knuckling everything.
“It’s a game. Just out and play. Some of the best defenders make mistakes, too. They’re better at forgetting it. Like Ted Lasso says, ‘be a goldfish.’ You just gotta forget it. Move on.”
So how does Wisdom get back to his 2021 self on the field?
“Just playing freely and not worrying about anything, to be frank,” he said. “I think there’s that fine line of not caring but caring enough where you can go play freely but not being so uptight and not being so lackadaisical that it doesn’t look like you’re trying.
“It’s a weird situation. Just hard to find that line. I feel like sometimes, I try to go too far one way, too far the other way. I’m trying to find the middle balance of what consistency looks like.”