It's been a long road for Patrick Wisdom. Many of you know his story by now. He was a 1st round supplemental pick in 2012. He was left off the 40-man roster last year despite his postseason heroics for Memphis. Every team passed on him during the Rule 5 draft in December.
He's turning 27 in just a few days. He's been called a tweener. A Quad-A guy. A C- prospect, or not a prospect at all. At best, a potentially interesting bench option but definitely not a starter. And there are good reasons for that.
He's never hit over league average with the exception of his run in the NY-Penn league in 2012, and when he slugged .507 last season despite hitting just .243 with a .310 on-base percentage. This year in Memphis has been his finest, hitting for an .842 OPS with a .363 OBP.
He's never drawn a ton of walks. He strikes out a lot. He always had some pop. He had shown more of it the past couple years. He's started to draw a few more walks this year.
He's just not got that much of an intriguing profile. Here are just a few things that have been said about Wisdom over the years:
"The Cardinals see a guy that needs some time at each level to adjust to the higher level of pitching, while some scouts see a guy that a 45 bat at best. The raw power is above average to plus, the arm is a 70 and the defense is at least average at third base, with a similar profile to Matt Dominguez, who stalled out once he reached the big leagues. Wisdom’s swing isn’t bad, but it can get long and open up holes when he tries to hit for power, so he’ll likely have to choose to hit for contact or power." - Kiley McDaniel, 2015
"Wisdom has plus raw power swing and his combination of swing-and-miss issues and limited defensive profile (not everyone likes him at third) make him a Quad-A candidate. Some like him as a poppy corner-bench bat." - Eric Longenhagen, 2017
So most people would tell you that Patrick Wisdom just isn't a guy to get all that excited about. Players of his ilk are to be found in spades in AAA, and once they hit their late 20's/early 30's you see them playing ball over in Japan, Mexico or Korea. (Hello, Miles Mikolas)
And yet, I can't help but be emotionally invested in him and his story. And here he is now, finally in the big leagues and delivering clutch hits that - dare I say - may have saved the season.
After last night, this team has the feel of a playoff team. It was like crazy euphoria and quite a huge shift from where they were not long ago. I'm not quite ready to say that they are a playoff team yet, but from hitting an all-time low in playoff odds on 7/31 (9%), the Cardinals chances have leaped up to 29% as of today. And over the last two games, their chances have gone up about 9%.
Patrick Wisdom has played a huge part in that. His single against Jason Hammel with the bases loaded in a tie game on Sunday was huge. And last night, when the team was trailing by a run, his single advanced Wong and set the table for Matt Carpenter's crazy heroics. Game of the year material.
I don't expect Wisdom to light the world on fire, or even play all that often. He still may very well walk down the path of the Quad-A guy who turns into a journeyman.
But here's why I'm pulling for him:
I think many of us can identify with him in one way or another. When asked about when he got passed by every team during the Rule 5 he said:
“Obviously there was some sense of doubt that crept in. You’ve got to shut that down, immediately. Once you start doubting yourself it will start happening on the field. Next thing you know, you’re just going down a spiral you don’t want to go down.”
I feel that. I'm 39 years-old. I've had friends and acquaintances from my days writing at FanGraphs go on and do big things in front offices, major media companies and I've seen FanGraphs evolve into some big things. And that doesn't always feel great when you're still working a job, or trying your hand at freelancing.
I have some crazy dreams, even if most of them don't include baseball writing anymore these days. I've allowed doubt to creep into my life many times and I believe that it has robbed years of my life.
Now I am by no means done, I still consider myself to be young and I have more optimism about my future than ever. I know this is getting uncomfortably autobiographical for many of you. It's far from my usual statistical analysis type of post, but the point is this: I'm rooting for Patrick Wisdom because I'm rooting for myself.
While he may feel late in realizing his potential, he's on the big stage now. And while he's not delivered go-crazy-folks type moments like Matt Carpenter delivered last night, he set the table and played a pivotal role in something bigger than himself, something that has the potential to make history.
We all may feel a little bit late in realizing our potential or behind in our development, and we may feel like we're not as talented as those around us, and there's not much of a place for us. We may have been tempted to let self-doubt creep in our lives.
But if we don't give up, we may never become the superstar that leads the team, but we can make a contribution that could be looked back upon as a "season-saving" moment that carries on a picture that's bigger than ourselves. We all have an ordained part to play in this crazy planet, and we can if we don't quit.
To quote The Lego Movie, "Believe. I know it sounds like a cat poster, but it's true". (Sorry, I have kids.)
But seriously, let's all glean a little wisdom from Patrick Wisdom.