Anthony Rizzo really broke out last year. Being named an All-Star for the first time was the first of many accomplishments last year for the Cubs’ first baseman. Finishing the year hitting .286 with 32 home runs and 78 runs batted in – Rizzo would finish tenth in NL MVP voting. That will change this year. He has a real chance at contending for the National League MVP this year. With more weapons for the Cubs around him, he will find himself with more RBI opportunities.
He’s taken the role of the team’s leader – something some players his age might shy away from. Instead of shying away – he took it and made a statement that made the rest of the NL Central take notice – the Cubs are going to win the NL Central. That wasn’t just a statement to get headlines – it was a fact that Rizzo truly believes in. Will the Cubs win the Central? They have as good a shot as anyone . If they do, they’ll need their team MVP to play like one.
Now with a true lead off hitter on the team – the table will be set for more two and three run homers than solo shots. Rizzo will also likely see a lot more runs scored with the possibility of batting ahead of Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant. Speaking of Soler and Bryant – if they both end up being everything that we all hope they will be, pitchers are going to have a hard time deciding who to pitch to. Rizzo may see more walks, but he could also see a lot more pitches that he can turn on and drive into the gaps or into the stands.
Even though last year was considered a break-out year for Rizzo – this year could be even bigger. Even with the number of options for any owner to draft at first base, Rizzo should be right up there with the Prince Fielders, Jose Abreu, Jose Batista, and Paul Goldschmidt, right after Miguel Cabrera who will probably be first to go out of the group.
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