Profiling each Chicago Cubs player for 2017, we start off with reigning Gold Glove Award Winner and All-Star 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Starting today, and continuing through Spring Training, we’ll provide an in-depth analysis on a Chicago Cubs player. Kicking off this quest is first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
The anchor on defense, and the thundering bat in the lineup, Anthony Rizzo has quietly turned into a leading veteran on the Cubs. Though he still feels like one of the young guys, and at 27-years-old, still technically is, Rizzo officially qualifies as a veteran presence, and the oldest among the infield — when Ben Zobrist isn’t playing there.
You almost might forget that Rizzo hasn’t always suited up for the North Side in his career. Except for a brief-cup-of-coffee with the San Diego Padres in 2011, the former Red Sox prospect drafted by, you named it, Theo Epstein, along with GM Jed Hoyer, the former Pads GM, reacquired Rizzo in a trade with San Diego in 2012, officially setting the new foundation for the Chicago Cubs.
Rizzo is basically synonymous with the once-budding Cubs future, and now vibrant present. He was there when the team was bad. In fact he’s one of the few holdovers from those pre-Joe Maddon years. The first signature acquisition under Epstein, Rizzo has in turn rewarded Theo and Cubs fans by turning into a perennial-MVP candidate. It’s only appropriate he caught the final out of the 2016 World Series.
And lest we forget he was the major move after the Cubs missed on signing free agent Prince Fielder, who has since retired due to health reasons.
In 2012 Rizzo hit 15 home runs, 48 RBI in just 87 games at the Major League level. In 2013, he was a regular at first base, showing power, but lacking in batting average (.233). The numbers have steadily improved, and is only aided with the likes of MVP Kris Bryant and World Series MVP Ben Zobrist protecting him in the batting order.
Through the past two seasons in the Maddon era, Rizzo has averaged nearly 32 homers, 105 RBI, and his 617 total bases since 2015 ranks first among first baseman in the game.
2016 was Rizzo’s finest season to date:
Rizzo’s defense rewarded him with his first gold glove in 2016, the youngest Cub to win one, as well as the first Cub to take home the Platinum Glove Award. It’s safe to say we expect more of the same in 2017. An All-Star 2014-16, Rizzo is arguably one of the top first baseman in MLB. Statistically, he’s one of the best in the game, coming in top 10 among every major offensive and defensive category:
- Runs 6th
- Hits 6th
- 2B T-1st
- RBI 2nd
- BB 10th
- AVG 6th
- OBP 6th
- OPS 4th
- TB 3rd
- XBH 2nd
- WAR 2nd
His DWAR of 0.2 ranks No. 1 among all qualified first baseman in 2016. You might remember, Rizzo has a knack for making the outrageous look routine.
Though some might consider Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt as the elite first baseman in the league, and with good reason, Rizzo just as much belongs in the conversation. Entering 2017 it would not be a surprise to see Rizzo approach his first 40 home run season, and a .300 BA, as he hit a career high .292 in 2016.
NEXT: Ben Zobrist
Also published on Medium.