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Fantasy Baseball Takeaways: Patrick Wisdom gets a chance

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Like most MLB clubs this spring, the Cubs offense has met challenges. There have been slumps and a bunch of injuries — notably in the infield. And outfield issues have forced Kris Bryant to move off third base. There’s an opening for a productive infield bat — if someone can step forward.

Perhaps Patrick Wisdom is that guy.

If you haven’t heard of Wisdom, get in line. Although he was the 52nd overall pick in the 2012 draft class, he hasn’t done much as a pro. Now into his age-29 season, he only has 104 plate appearances in the show.

But he does offer pop, that’s for sure. He’s already hit three homers in 15 Chicago at-bats — he conked two of them Monday — and he’s shown power in the minors. He logged 107 games with Triple-A Nashville in 2019 and hit 31 home runs in just 396 at-bats. His eight-game stint at Iowa this year was a riot — a .160/.353/.560 slash, with three homers. Hey, that OBP plays!

Okay, his career batting average in the minors is .244. He’s got a respectable eye, and some swing-and-miss in his game. He’s obviously far too old to be considered a prospect. But it’s not that uncommon to see some players find themselves in their late 20s when they finally get a chance to play.

Wisdom is rostered in just one percent of Yahoo leagues, so he’s available if you need to try something at the corner. I added him in one deeper pool today.

May 31, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom (16) celebrates after hitting a solo home run against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Put your hands together for Patrick Wisdom (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

Cesar Hernandez reinvents himself 

A few years back, we had a pretty good handle on Cesar Hernandez. Solid average, a little pop, eager base stealer. He made for a useful middle infielder, available late in most drafts.

Fast forward to today, and the 31-year-old Hernandez is playing a totally different game. It’s hard to figure this is the same player.

Hernandez has a dismal .216/.301/.382 slash, which might close the book for most fantasy managers. He also hasn’t even attempted a steal since 2019; maybe that part of his game is done. But he’s hit eight homers, including two Monday. And his under-the-hood profile says he’s actually swinging much better than the results might indicate.

According to Statcast data, Hernandez should be batting .259. His current average should be considered a fluke. A jump in barrel rate and launch angle partially explains the power spike. I also wonder if he’ll ever try to start running again, as the sprint speed grades well. But even if Hernandez stops any base movement, I see a second baseman who could easily bat .260 with solid power the rest of the way.

He’s underappreciated in Yahoo leagues, rostered in a modest 15 percent of pools.

Appreciating, and investing in, Jacob deGrom 

I remember when the Red Sox acquired Pedro Martinez before the 1998 season. I was still living in New England at the time, limited to mostly regional viewing of baseball. I caught Pedro’s first Boston start — a late-night turn at Oakland — and watched him throw unhittable slider after unhittable slider. I couldn’t believe my good fortune — my favorite team had the best pitcher in baseball, and I was invited to watch him dominate every five days.

That’s how I feel about Jacob deGrom today. His starts are appointment television. He has a chance to leave an indelible mark on baseball history.

DeGrom threw six creamy-smooth scoreless innings at Arizona on Monday, and for once the Mets offense supported him. DeGrom lowered his ERA to 0.71 and his WHIP to 0.57. Those are wiffle ball numbers, man. He’s walked seven, struck out 82 over 51 innings. Throw in the fantastic SNY TV crew and deGrom starts are the best take in baseball these days.

No, you can’t pick up deGrom in a fantasy league, of course. It might even be hard to trade for him. But one investment I can sign off on — consider some deGrom shares for MVP. It’s not easy for a pitcher to win that award — it’s criminal Pedro Martinez never won an MVP — but if deGrom dances with this outlier ERA all year and the Mets win the NL East, he’ll have a strong case. And heck, he’s been terrific at the plate, too. 

The odds are still reasonable, if you're into that type of thing (Bet MGM currently lists deGrom at 9-to-1). And while I don't begrudge Ronald Acuna Jr. as the favorite, he could be hurt in the voting (rightly or wrongly) if the Braves don't make the playoffs. Acuna could also slump or get hurt, or perhaps be beaten by a legendary deGrom season. Bottom line, I see value here. 

Just don’t get hurt, ace. We need you on the mound. The next deGrom bagel parade is Saturday at San Diego, up against no-hit kid Joe Musgrove. Get your popcorn ready.

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