Patrick Wisdom enjoying his moment with Cubs: ‘This is friggin’ cool’
NEW YORK – Sometimes, it’s just about being in the right spot at the right time.
The stars have aligned for Patrick Wisdom and the Cubs over the last few weeks as he transformed from an under-the-radar injury replacement to a cleanup hitter in the national spotlight.
“It’s been pretty special, honestly,” Wisdom said. “A little overwhelming but I would say that in a positive light. A ton of people reaching out. The positive messages I’ve received have been really special.”
Monday’s homer to the M&Ms sign in left-center at Citi Field brought Wisdom’s total to 9 on the season.
In 54 at-bats.
On June 15, Wisdom is tied for 4th on the Cubs in longballs — ahead of Anthony Rizzo and Ian Happ — despite having roughly a quarter of the plate appearances as his teammates. Raise your hand if you predicted that before the season started.
Wisdom also leads all rookies in homers and his 9 blasts since May 27 paces the big leagues (2 more than the next closest hitter).
“I don’t know if I’ve seen a lot of hot streaks like this,” Jed Hoyer said. “It’s been a lot of fun to watch.”
This isn’t your typical story for a Rookie of the Year candidate.
Wisdom turns 30 in August and came into the 2021 season with 43 big-league games under his belt.
The Cubs saw a month or so of what Wisdom had to offer late last summer at the alternate site after he was released by the Mariners in mid-August. But he still hit free agency over the winter before the Cubs brought him back on a minor-league deal in January.
Wisdom was first added to the 40-man roster late last month when Matt Duffy — another inspirational story amid this Cubs season — went on the IL May 25.
Wisdom hit a homer in his first start of the season May 27 in Pittsburgh and then had one robbed by the Wrigley Field wind the following day in a pinch-hit appearance. Later in the homestand, he exploded against Padres pitching with 3 homers in the series.
Wisdom hit 3 more dingers in San Francisco, including 2 in the finale to will his team to a 4-3 victory. A couple days later, he was back at it again with another longball in San Diego.
Nine homers would be a good half for most rookies. Wisdom has reached that mark in two-and-a-half weeks.
It’s been huge to help the Cubs maintain their winning ways despite a rash of injuries. But three weeks is still a pretty small sample size so the question everybody seems to keep coming back to with Wisdom is fair — is it simply a hot streak or a legitimate breakout?
Even when he’s not hitting homers, he’s working quality at-bats and always seems to find himself in 3-2 counts. He’s also impressed with his defense at third base and has been an all-around contributor to the point where David Ross feels compelled to write his name in the lineup on an everyday basis.
“I take a lot of pride in [defense] because I know the game is more than just hitting and being one-dimensional,” Wisdom said. “It’s baserunning, it’s fielding, it’s having baseball savvy. And I think taking pride in each one of those aspects to make you a better all-around player is huge.
“I love taking ground balls, I love defense, I love taking fly balls. Being out here [on the field] is just awesome. I don’t take it for granted and I love working out here.”
It’s exactly that kind of perspective that has helped Wisdom break through in his career.
He’s learned to enjoy the moment a lot more in recent years.
“When I was younger, you kinda get awestruck — as much as you want to deny that,” Wisdom said. “You see it on TV and then all of a sudden, you’re there in front of the camera. I don’t think I was mature enough to be in the moment. I was taking it all in and [thinking I] gotta do extra, gotta be over the top.
“And now, I have a different perspective. It’s like, ‘this is friggin’ cool.’ You get to play in front of these fans. They’re coming here to see you play. You don’t have to do anything special. Just play your game and that’ll speak for itself.
“I take pride in enjoying being out here and having fun. This is fun. I think a change of perspective really helped me.”
When it comes to his mindset, Wisdom points to the 2018 season when he was with Memphis, the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Even in games where he had a big hit, he would go home thinking about the other 3 at-bats where he made an out.
He spent a lot of time talking with Stubby Clapp, the Memphis manager at the time, and picked up a few books in search of fostering a more positive mindset.
Wisdom was drawn to “Relentless Optimism: How a Commitment to Postitive Thinking Changes Everything,” a book he read three or four times.
“It really resonated with me,” he said.
He also read David Goggins’ book “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds” and started to form the right habit.
“I think it just took some time to repeat those positive thoughts and those positive emotions,” Wisdom said. “And the next thing I know, I just start having fun regardless of the result. If you live and die by the results, it’s tough.”
Sometimes a change in mindset is all that’s needed for the light to switch on for a player with a lot of potential. He was a supplemental 1st-round pick in the 2012 Draft (52nd overall) and hit 31 homers in Triple-A in both 2017 and 2019.
Wisdom also finally received an extended big-league opportunity this season when the Cubs were hit with injury after injury.
The end result is a perfect storm for Wisdom to have his moment in the spotlight.
“He was drafted and picked for a reason,” Hoyer said. “He’s always had great tools and he’s had some ups and downs in his minor league career but it’s really fun seeing a guy like him having this success in a market like this where everyone’s talking about him. Sort of a national story with how well he’s playing.
“I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s a great kid and deserves this moment and I hope he keeps it going.”