Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo heating up down the stretch
By Jake Misener
The Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo has been red-hot during the month of August, leading his team to a potential postseason berth for the first time since 2008.
It’s no secret that Rizzo is this team’s leader. He’s the “old guy” of the young guns, having just turned 26 years old earlier this month.
He’s been here through it all – the losing, the rebuild and everything leading up to this year’s breakout season that has the Cubs in firm control of a postseason spot in the National League. And perhaps that’s why fans love him so much.
I mean, what’s not to love?
The guy battled cancer, has a tremendous presence in the Chicagoland community with his charity work and did I mention the fact that he’s putting together yet-another impressive season both in the field and at the dish for Chicago.
Rizzo is batting .317/.417/.633 in the month of August with five home runs and 16 runs batted in. He’s led the Cubs to a staggering 13-4 record this month, and with 10 days left in the month, he could very well put together his best single-month numbers of the year at a critical point.
Anyone who has watched this team over the past few seasons isn’t surprised by Rizzo’s performance this year. His “worst” month (depending on how you look at it) was probably July, when he batted just .250, hitting only three doubles and four home runs.
But when you step back and take a closer look at it, July wasn’t a bad month by most players’ standards. His on-base percentage was still at .372, he swiped three bases (he now has 15 on the year and could make a run at 20-20) and he helped keep the team afloat, despite his struggles.
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That stretch was probably the first time I’ve ever seen the Cubs first baseman lose his cool on the diamond. You could tell that not contributing at the level he’s used to was causing him major stress – which, if you ask me, is a good thing. I’ll take a guy who cares that much over someone who remains level non-stop any day.
Since those struggles, though, he’s reverted back his poster boy status. We all remember his leaping grab at Wrigley Field last week, when he climbed the rolled-up tarp along the first-base wall, making a spectacular catch for an out.
Thursday night, he backed ace Jake Arrieta, clubbing a three-run blast to help halt the Cubs’ three-game skid. And all season-long, regardless of how he’s performed at the dish, he’s been his usual above-average self over at first base.
Carrying a 1.050 OPS into action Friday at home against Atlanta, one thing is for sure: Anthony Rizzo is hitting his stride just in time for what fans hope will be a deep playoff run.