It’s widely believed that Jeff Samardzija will be the lone representative for the Chicago Cubs in the Midsummer Classic at Target Field on July 15th. But could the case be made for Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo?
After a 2013 season that left many questions for both, Rizzo and Castro have bounced back, most recently helping the Cubs win five in a row at home. But if its enough for Cubs fans to rally and vote them in is yet to be seen.
Rizzo has boosted his slash line to .282/.407/.500, with an OPS of .907. He currently leads the team in most offensive categories, and most recently has come up with several clutch hits to help the Cubs on this win streak. These are hits last season that Rizzo didn’t get.
“Every time I’m up there I’m confident,” Rizzo said. “Whether I’m 0-for-5, 0-for-6, 0-for-10 or 5-for-5. In those situations I want to be up there. I want my teammates to want me to be up there.” h/t Jesse Rogers, ESPNChicago.com
Following the departure of Alfonso Soriano via trade, the Cubs were left without someone to count on for clutch hits. This year, Rizzo has taken over those duties. In “clutch” situations-meaning games seventh inning or later that are tied or one-run affairs-Rizzo had only one home run and 11 RBIs. This season he already has three home runs, eight RBIs to go along with eight walks.
Rizzo’s growth, along with his acceptance of the leadership role, is in my opinion well worth of a nod to the All-Star game.
Castro was written off by many Cubs fans after two disappointing seasons, and needed a solid season to renew faith in the deal the Cubs game him as one of the “core” components to the Cubs future.
Last season there was emphasis on Castro being more patient, taking pitches. This season for Castro, it’s grip it and rip it. And so far that’s working out fine. Castro once again leads the team in hits, which Castro had done his first two seasons in the Majors.
Castro currently carries a .270 average, with seven home runs and 29 RBIs. Following last year’s struggles, he’s surely trending in the right direction. While the aggressive approach has led to more strikeouts (37), and less walks (14), the results speak for themselves.
Through his age 23 season, Castro has compiled 692 hits. How good is that? For comparison, at the same stage of their career, Hank Aaron had 718, Cal Ripken Jr. had 569, Derek Jeter had 385, and baseballs all-time hits leader Pete Rose? Just 309.
His fielding continues to has its ups and downs, but even with the errors (9), Castro has shown more focus in the field, and seems to stay engaged. Many of the errors have been out of aggressiveness more than lack of focus. And there have been more than a handful of highlight reel plays this season.
Both Rizzo and Castro, as well as Samardzija, are all making a solid case for a trip to the All-Star game.
If the Cubs can continue the winning trend, it can only help to support their cause.