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The Cubs Are Lacking All Types of Wisdom at Third Base

So far this season the Chicago Cubs are lacking Wisdom at third base. , that is. The slugger opened the season on the injured list and hasn’t seen much action at the hot corner since his return. The searing question is why not? The answer to that question requires some reflection on the team’s current course. The Cubs are searching for young talent to drive toward successive seasons of competitive play. They need a third baseman with some power and a solid glove.

A Cubs Team in Search of a Third Baseman

The Cubs are searching for young talent to drive toward successive seasons of competitive play. To this end, seemed like a good fit at third base. The 24-year-old’s energy and enthusiasm are as infectious as his explosive power is awe-inspiring. But the club has had trouble finding a place for him in the field. Morel came up as a shortstop but showed early signs of the fielding errors that still plague him today. When the Cubs realized this as they went out of their way to sign Glove Glove winner to a seven-year deal.

With few ready options in Triple-A Iowa this year, the Cubs have decided to give Morel a long look at third base. With the season now well over a third over, in the majors in fielding at the position. It’s hard to imagine his fielding hasn’t also affected his hitting, too. After a prolonged slump, Morel is hitting.227/.414/.500, but has been improving over the past week. But no amount of slug can make up for the deficit in his fielding. And it’s not like the team doesn’t have other options.

Bote or Wisdom at Third?

Wisdom and the recently recalled are both good options defensively for the Cubs. Bote is slightly younger than Wisdom at 31 and was originally signed as a second baseman where he fills in on occasion for gold glover . Bote has successfully learned to play at the corner with a degree of confidence Morel seems unlikely to achieve. He shows good range and an ability to make tough plays seem relatively routine. But Bote lacks Morel’s explosive power, a tool clubs like to have at the position. Furthermore, his hitting can be streaky, clutch one minute and choking the next.

The hard-slugging Wisdom also lacks consistency at the plate and is nine years Morel’s senior. But Wisdom, who will turn 33 later this year, plays a gold glove caliber third baseman with a cannon for an arm. What’s more, Wisdom has easy power at the plate very much like Morel. In three seasons for the Cubs from 2021-23, Wisdom hit 28, 25, and 23 HR with a .779 OPS.

Is there a swing-and-miss? Definitely. Since that 2021 season♌ Wisdom ranks the second-worst in baseball with a 36.9 percent strik꧂eout rate. However, his 16.1 percent barrel rate is eighth, his 40.1 percent hard-hit rate is 11, and his isolated power is eighth in MLB during the same period. Simply put, when he hits it he crushes it.

The Regular, the Utility Man, and the DH

Wisdom’s numbers look very similar to Morel’s who also has a high whiff rate but who tends to smash the ball when he connects. But Wisdom came up playing third and plays the position with a high degree of confidence and competence. So, if the Cubs are looking for consistency at that position in a proven slugger, Wisdom is a wise choice.

Meanwhile, , who came up as a second baseman, is proving to be solid at first vase where he currently ranks fourth in baseball in outs above average at the position. Putting Wisdom at third would solidify the defensive infield while the Cubs continue to bring along their farm system. Morel could then concentrate on hitting at the designated hitter position. With his head clear of the anxiety he must surely be feeling trying to field, he might prove to be a valuable piece of the Cubs’ overall team in the future.

Clearly, then, the answer to the original question is the Cubs still see themselves in rebuild mode. What other answer could there be with not one but two better choices at third base? As the season lurches slowly toward the midway point, ‘s lineup and rotation are leaning toward contention. If the answer to that question is yes then not playing Wisdom at third base is, in a word, unwise.

Main Photo: © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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