Chicago Cubs: A look at the projected 2016 starting lineup

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Oct 12, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman

Anthony Rizzo

(44) celebrates after hitting solo home run during the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

First Base: Anthony Rizzo

It wouldn’t feel right if I led off with another player, considering that he’s the heart and soul of this young organization. Rizzo began as the original building block to Epstein’s plan and has grown right before our very eyes.

Not only is he the cornerstone of this club, but he’s proven to be one of Chicago’s all-around favorite players because of what he does for the community. From visiting sick kids to holding charity events or giving things away on twitter, people love Anthony Rizzo.

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The 26-year-old left-handed hitter made several highlight plays on the defensive side of the ball and placed himself in the N.L. MVP race behind Washington Nationals outfielder, Bryce Harper.

In 160 at-bats, Rizzo helped lift this club with 31 homers, 101 RBI, 31 doubles, three triples, 163 hits, and 17 steals while hitting .278/.387/.512. He was competing with his fellow third baseman, who later won N.L. Rookie of the Year honors.

And now that Castro is officially out-of-town, that means Rizzo is the team’s longest-tenured player. There’s no doubt that the first person who needs to be allowed to hoist that World Series trophy (when the time comes), is Rizzo.

Of course, he’s expected to put up another monster season and could pass up Harper for his first N.L. MVP award at the end of the 2016 campaign.

Next: Old Faces, New Places