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Anthony Rizzo could become a serious NL MVP candidate in 2015

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Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo was clearly the MVP of this club, but would he have been the MVP of the National League if it wasn’t for his injury?

At one point this season, Rizzo led the National League in home runs but later lost his lead to Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Yes, he fell into a little bit of a slump, but was on pace to hit at least 45 or so long-balls before injuring his back and missing almost a month of playing time – 20 games to be exact.

The 25-year-old first baseman produced a ton of runs for the Cubs in 2014 – finishing with 32 home runs, 78 RBIs, and 28 doubles through 140 games with a solid batting line of .286/.386/.527. Last season through 160 games, Rizzo had nine less home runs but two more RBIs, and 12 doubles in 606 at-bats.

He also had himself three multi-home run games this season coming against the San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Milwaukee Brewers.

The last Cubs’ first baseman to hit 30 or more home-runs happens to be Derrek Lee. Lee hit 30 or more in three of his six and a half years with the franchise – his most being 46 in 2005.

Interesting side note, both Rizzo and Lee made their Major League debuts with the San Diego Padres.

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Defensively, Rizzo had a little bit more trouble this year than he did in his first full season as the primary starter as he committed nine errors while fielding .993. He finished 2013 with only five errors and a career high .997 fielding percentage.

Winning NL MVP honors will be a difficult task for Chicago’s first baseman, but it’s not impossible. This team is looking to contend next season and will obviously be led by the young slugger who will continue to anchor the lineup.

With top third base prospect Kris Bryant nearing his Major League debut, there’s going to be a couple of players on this team who could end up competing with each other for this honor. So expect Rizzo and Bryant trying to one up the other while making a push for the National League Central crown.

Former outfielder Sammy Sosa was named the NL Most Valuable Player back in 1998 – a year where he finished with 66 home runs and 158 RBIs. So could Anthony Rizzo be the man to snap that 16 year drought?

You better believe it. Good things are coming Cubs’ fans, very good things.

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