While not technically eliminated from playoff contention, the Cubs are 10.5 games back of the second NL Wild Card with 14 left to play. FanGraphs gives them a 0% chance to get in and they are off the board in the NL playoff odds. If win totals were still open, the North Siders would be at 73.0 or 73.5 for the season.
One area where Cubs fans still have interest, however, is the NL Rookie of the Year race. From these sports betting sites, both Patrick Wisdom (+1500) and Frank Schwindel (+4000) are among the top four in terms of best odds. But even here, Cubs fans can’t get their hopes up as Cincinnati’s Jonathan India (-1000) is a huge favorite.
It’s incredible that either Cubs corner man is in contention at all, what with their advanced ages and the team’s poor play this season. In Schwindel’s case, there’s also the late start and general lack of exposure. After originally debuting with Kansas City in 2019, Frank the Tank batted .067 in 15 plate appearances and didn’t see the majors again until earlier this season with Oakland.
Schwindel batted only 20 times with the A’s, hitting .150 with one homer and striking out five times with no walks. Not surprisingly, he was designated for assignment on July 16 and picked up by the Cubs off waivers two days later. His legend began two weeks after that when he was promoted to the big club in the wake of all the trade deadline departures.
He was fruitless as a pinch hitter in his first plate appearance as a Cub, then went on an eight-game hitting streak and hasn’t stopped raking since. The New Jersey native batting .362/.409/.684 with a 187 wRC+ that is second only to Bryce Harper (208) in that time. Schwindel has also been worth 2.0 fWAR, which ties him with Javier Báez for third on the team FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON. Kris Bryant is in first with 2.6, just ahead of our other standout.
Wisdom has posted 2.3 fWAR this season on the strength of his 26 homers, which tied Bryant for the franchise’s rookie record. The wild part about it is that Wisdom has accomplished said feat in just 334 plate appearances after being called up on May 25. His 40.1% strikeout rate raises a big red flag, but his laser-rocket arm and dashing good looks can make folks forget about the whiffs for a while.
The production is also enough to make you forget that Wisdom is a little over four months older than Bryant. Not four months older than Bryant at the time the now-Giant set that rookie home run mark back in 2015, mind you, but older than Bryant is right now. Wisdom is also about eight months older than Schwindel, which isn’t necessarily a ringing endorsement for the ol’ Tankster.
Though it is a bit concerning that both will be on the wrong side of 30 by next July, they are proving themselves to be perfectly cromulent big leaguers at the very least. Schwindel has always been a low-strikeout guy throughout his professional career and could form a very contact-heavy infield trio with Nick Madrigal and Nico Hoerner next season. That would mitigate the irksome swing-and-miss tendencies of Wisdom, whose superior pop would offset the complete lack of power up the middle.
There’s plenty of reason to be unhappy with why Schwindel and Wisdom are getting so much playing time this season, but what they’re doing since being given opportunities is impossible to argue against. Of the two, Wisdom’s production seems far more sustainable because it’s an offensive profile we’ve seen across MLB for the last few years. Schwindel, on the other hand, doesn’t figure to be able to maintain anything close to this for very long.
Even so, a significantly reduced version of the folk hero we’re seeing lately would help a roster that is being rebuilt after a fire sale.