Wednesday, December 1, 2021

How Cubs 2021 Rookies Compare Historically


The Chicago Cubs 2021 season was all in all a major letdown. Numerous former All-stars and Cubs’ legends said their goodbyes to the city of Chicago and the pre-season Central division favorite finished 71-91, 24 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers. With so few positive moments to hold on to, one bright spot that deserves more attention is the rookie debuts of new Cubs players thrust into the spotlight post-trade deadline. Specifically, Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom.

The Stats

2021 Rookie Stats (Cubs Games Only):

1B Frank Schwindel: 56 Gs – .342 BA, .389 OBP, 78 H, 19 2B, 13 HR, 40 RBI

  • 2-time NL Rookie of the Month – August and September 2021
  • 4 straight game-winning hits

INF/OF Patrick Wisdom: 106 Gs – .231 BA, .305 OBP, 78 H, 13 2B, 28 HR, 61 RBI

  • NL Rookie of the Month – June 2021
  • Cubs rookie record 28 HRs


Both of these players were able to climb into Cubs’ record books in limited action this year. Despite being a full-time starter for less than half the season, Wisdom was able to surpass Kris Bryant (2015) for most homers by a Cubs rookie in a single season. Frank the Tank meanwhile finished second in franchise history for most hits in a player’s first 50 games tallying 69 base knocks.

The Schwisdom tandem was left with the near-impossible task of filling the shoes of the Cubs’ former 1B/3B combo, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. So far they have lived up to the challenge as both rookies should be finishing within the top 5 of the NL Rookie of the Year voting. On paper, they appear to be an integral part of whatever the next 1-2 years of rebuilding ends up looking like on the North Side.

Other notable Cubs’ Rookie Debuts

The NL Rookie of the Year Award Winners

LF Billy Williams (1961): .278 BA, 147 H, 25 HR, 86 RBI

2B Ken Hubbs (1962): .260 BA, 172 H, 24 2B, Gold Glove winner

CF Jerome Walton (1989): .293 BA, 139 H, 23 2B, 24 SB

SP Kerry Wood (1998): 26 GS, 166.2 IP, 13-6, 3.40 ERA, 233 K

  • MLB Record 20 strikeout game, 2 HR as a hitter

C Geovany Soto (2008): .285 BA, 141 H, 23 HR, 86 RBI

3B Kris Bryant (2015): .275 BA, .369 OBP, 154 H, 26 HR, 87 R, 99 RBI

The Others

SS Ernie Banks (1954): .275 BA, 163 H, 19 HR, 79 RBI

1B Mark Grace (1988): .296 BA, .371 OBP, 144 H, 57 RBI

OF Dwight Smith (1989): .324 BA, .382 OBP, 111 H, 52 RBI

SP Kyle Hendricks (2014): 13 GS, 80.1 IP, 7-2, 2.46 ERA

INF/OF Ian Happ (2017): .253 BA, 92 H, 24 HR, 68 RBI

Where They Rank

Kerry Wood and Kris Bryant set an incredibly high bar to follow as they both performed like All-stars in their first go-arounds donning the pinstripes.

Patrick Wisdom found ways to excite fans with his power, but outside of hitting the most homers by a Cubs’s rookie, his inaugural campaign does little to challenge for the title of best rookie season in franchise history. Kris Bryant’s first year offensively easily tops Wisdom’s output in terms of recent memory, with many other of the above offensive outputs also pacing his overall production.

Frank Schwindel would have a clear-cut argument for the best rookie season in not just Cubs’ franchise history, but possibly MLB history if he had continued his rate of production for a full season. Appearing in just over fifty games; however, leaves too much up to debate of hypotheticals. With no guarantee he would continue his torrid pace without faltering he can be skipped over in this debate, but giving him the title of best 50-game debut ever by a Chicago Cub seems more than fair.

Michael Jacobucci
Lifelong Cubs and Bears diehard fan. Indiana born and raised, currently living in Chicago. Sports nerd in my free time.

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