Chicago Cubs: Making the case for Anthony Rizzo leading off in 2018
By Jake Misener
Chicago Cubs: Rizzo is willing to sacrifice for the team
Last season, Anthony Rizzo was hit by 24 pitches – most in all of Major League Baseball. Since 2015, the Cubs’ first baseman has racked up 70 hit-by-pitches. In a still very young career, he ranks in the Top 100 all-time in the category.
Now, I’m not saying this makes him a good leadoff hitter. But it’s the mentality he shows in each and every at-bat. Rizzo carries a .388 on-base percentage over the last three years into 2018. He works counts better than any hitter in the lineup and, if opponents think they’re going to groove one in to get ahead, he’s liable to take them deep.
His plate discipline and two-strike approach speak for themselves. Last year, he drew 91 walks in 157 games. While that may not impress you, the fact he whiffed only 90 times should. He walked more than he struck out. That fact, in today’s strikeout-laden game, is more impressive than ever. Especially when you consider his incredible power stroke, as well.
For the last four seasons, Rizzo has hit at least 30 home runs. Putting him atop the order serves a similar purpose to what Maddon hoped Schwarber would last year. Sure, he can work the count and draw walks. But he can spark an offense if he sees just one mistake from an opposing starter.