Chicago Cubs: Putting a grade to Anthony Rizzo’s season

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CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26: Anthony Rizzo
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26: Anthony Rizzo /
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Anthony Rizzo posted a stellar season for the Chicago Cubs, further establishing himself as a superstar on the North Side and the face of the franchise.

A+. . 1B. Chicago Cubs. ANTHONY RIZZO

The 2017 season marked Anthony Rizzo’s sixth as a member of the Chicago Cubs. That makes the 28-year-old the longest tenured Cubs’ player. Rizzo was acquired by the Cubs prior to the 2012 season in what would be the first move in Theo Epstein’s quest to rebuild the Cubs.

At 22 years old, Rizzo appeared in 87 games for the Cubs. In those games, Rizzo slashed .285/.342/.463 with 15 home runs and 48 RBI.

Following the 2012 season, Rizzo continued to play like a superstar. Over the next four seasons (2013-2016), Rizzo would appear in 615 games and slash .271/.370/.499. In addition to that, the lefty would slug 118 home runs and record 368 RBI. Those totals average out to 30 home runs and 92 RBI per season.

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For his efforts from 2014 to 2016, Rizzo finished in the top-ten in MVP voting each year. Along with that, Rizzo earned three All-Star game selections each of those years, winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 2016.

A year after posting 32 home runs and 109 RBI and helping lead his team to a World Series title, Rizzo looked to continue his strong offensive game.

Rizzo shines once again on offense

After batting .260 in the month of April and just .194 in May, Rizzo came alive. During the month of June, Rizzo hit at a .320 clip and logged an OPS of 1.037. He continued that success in August, hitting .355 with seven home runs and 30 RBI.

Overall, Rizzo turned in another solid season for the Cubs. In 2017, at age 27, Rizzo slashed .273/.392/.507 with 32 home runs and 109 RBI. To go along with that, Rizzo was one of only a few players to record more walks than strikeouts in 2017. He did so by logging 91 walks, the most of his career, and striking out just 90 times.

Rizzo’s 32 home runs extended his streak of 30 or more in a season to four straight years. Additionally, Rizzo has now recorded an least 100 RBI in three straight seasons.

Rizzo showed strong defense like always

Throughout his career, Rizzo has proven to be a great defender at first base. In 2017, the story was no different. The slick-fielding lefty logged over 1,300 innings at first base, committing just three errors. That equates to a .998 fielding percentage, the highest percentage at first base in Rizzo’s career. Despite that, Rizzo saved just nine defensive runs in 2017, falling short of the 11 saved in 2016 and the ten saved in 2015.

Projection for the 2018 season

Rizzo is quickly becoming the face of the Chicago Cubs’ franchise for his work both on and off the field. Even though he did not receive any hardware like in 2016, Rizzo’s 2017 season was a success. Now, with yet another big season under his belt, the three-time All-Star will look to do some more damage in 2018.

According to Baseball-reference.com, Rizzo’s streak of 30 or more home runs will come to an end in 2018. Their projection suggests Rizzo will hit 28 long-balls and drive in 94 runs. Along with that, they have Rizzo slashing .276/.382/.512. In addition to that, the projection shows that Rizzo will log just 143 hits. If that holds, that would be his lowest total since the 2013 season.

Reason for the grade

There is no denying that Anthony Rizzo is a cornerstone of the Cubs’ franchise. Since Kris Bryant broke into the big leagues in 2015, Rizzo has done well to live up to his half of the “Bryzzo” nickname.

Because of Rizzo’s tenure in pinstripes, he is often considered one of the leaders in the clubhouse. In order to be considered that, you must preform on the field and Rizzo did just that in 2017 and has been doing that for the majority of his career.

Rizzo is one of the best first basemen in the National League. Year in and year out he drives that point home.

For me, if major league baseball were to award “C”‘s like the NFL, Rizzo would get one for the Cubs.

Next: Chicago Cubs: Giving Jason Heyward’s bat one more chance in 2018

With the hype of the 2016 season over, the Cubs need to get back to business in 2018. The Cubs’ front office will no doubt make some moves in the coming months to better the on-field product and ensure a return to October. With the fluidity of much of the roster, one thing can be counted on: Anthony Rizzo and his big bat.

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