Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo is one of game’s most underrated players
By Jake Misener
The Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo somehow remains one of baseball’s most underrated players, despite dominance on both sides of the ball.
Most baseball fans know Arizona Diamondbacks’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt doesn’t get enough love. But you’d be surprised to know his Chicago Cubs’ counterpart, Anthony Rizzo, is in the same boat.
Sure, he’s one-half of Team Bryzzo. The image of him catching the final out in Game 7 is burned into the minds of anyone who watched. Here in Chicagoland, he’s arguably one of the most beloved men in sports history. When he got engaged, the cries of bachelorettes across the Windy City could be heard for miles.
But let’s focus. We’re talking about the on-field contributions for now. And, trust me, there’s plenty to talk about.
In each of the last four seasons, Rizzo has hit a minimum of 31 home runs. From 2013 through Thursday’s finale in Pittsburgh, he had 149 long-balls to his credit – with an impressive .878 OPS. Last season, he not only brought a World Series title to the North Side. But he racked up a good amount of individual honors, as well.
Not just a Gold Glove winner – a Platinum Glove winner. The best defensive player in the National League. A Silver Slugger. A third-consecutive All-Star Game appearance. Oh, and he finished fourth in NL MVP voting at season’s end.
All he does is win – but really
It’s not hard to understand why. He features the rare combination of deadly long-ball power and one of the best plate approaches in baseball. In 2016, he tied a career-best with 32 home runs and set a career-high with 109 runs batted in. And he did all that with an on-base percentage north of .385 for the second-consecutive campaign.
This year, he’s hovering around a .390 OBP – and has 31 homers with three weeks to play. Chicago got the best from their first baseman in the second half, as Rizzo leads the Cubs to what we hope will be a third-straight postseason appearance.
Statistically, Anthony Rizzo is one of the best in the game. Especially at his position. So how could he be overrated? Maybe overrated isn’t the word. But he’s definitely overlooked more often than not.
Rizzo largely keeps to himself. He quietly goes about his work every day and doesn’t make a fuss. Off the diamond, his personal life is even quieter. Outside of Chicago, few understand the energy and charisma he features.
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The Chicago Cubs have a face of the franchise in Rizzo. Someday, we may very well see a number 44 flag flying down the foul line at Wrigley Field. And, somehow, he’ll have accomplished that without causing a fuss or emerging as a face of the game.
That idea somehow, after all he’s done, seems fitting.