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Cubs News: Ranking the NL Central’s First Basemen

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Aug 18, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman

Anthony Rizzo

(44) hits a solo home run against the New York Mets during the eighth inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs

Yep. I did. and I stand behind it that at the end of this season, he will prove me right. There are many who question his success of last season. Some through speculation, others through analytics. All fair and valid, same as me saying he’s the best in the division.

Rizzo and Starlin Castro had the spotlight on them entering last season. Both handed long-term deals, then proceeded to fall flat in 2013. Rizzo was up to the challenge, batting .286/.386./.527, with a career-high 32 home runs. But some, as those in this piece, question what kind of hitter he really is. while I do love Sabermetrics, it can sometimes lead to “over analyzing”. As new manager Joe Maddon said, he’ll use his numbers, in combination with his gut feeling.

Pointing to hard contact and medium contact rates as a reason for a projected drop off is where I question metrics a bit. They call it “bad process, dumb luck” for success. This could be because I watched Rizzo on a more regular basis, but because he didn’t square up the ball at the same rate of others can be deceiving. With two strikes, there were countless times he shortened his stroke and put bat on ball.

His BABIP was .311 last season. He makes contact with the ball in the zone at 90.1 percent when in the zone. And it’s still 62.1 percent when the pitch is outside of the zone. While he might not hit line drives at the rate of a Albert Pujols, he gets results. Good hitters find holes.

2015 Steamer Projections – .271/.359/.503, 32 HR, 93 RBIs, 4.7 WAR

Next: In Closing...

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