Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo knows they have a lot to prove

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

After the high the Chicago Cubs came off of in 2016, you can say last year was a little bit of a letdown. Not that making a third-straight NLCS is disappointing, but it wasn’t there last year. This year he can tell it is.

For the Chicago CubsAnthony Rizzo, he didn’t have a bad season last year. The home run and RBI numbers were the same, but he would admit that it wasn’t his best season, by far. But after the Cubs were knocked from the top by the Los Angeles Dodgers, he knows the Cubs have plenty to prove.

With the additions the Cubs have made this offseason, the team should once again be in the conversation for the World Series. There are the obvious ones such as the New York Yankees and, of course, the Houston Astros. And the Cubs probably don’t mind not being the target of many teams. But the fact they are in the conversation on a daily basis? That speaks to the effort that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have done.

Tragedy to start the spring

The spring started off with tragedy for Rizzo as his alma mater was the site of a horrific mass shooting. After going home to be with the ones who needed it, he’s happy to be talking baseball again. So what does he think of the feeling of this years team?

"“It’s definitely different,” he said of the vibe in camp during the first week of official workouts. “It’s a good, hungry feeling. Obviously last year was coming off a major high. This year is more like everyone’s focused and locked in early and shifting our energy to getting off to a really good start and how important that is.”"

The true leader

We’ve talked here about the role of Ben Zobrist, and could he become the new David Ross. But the actual leader of this team is Rizzo. Maybe it was bestowed upon him by Ross before he retired. But Rizzo hasn’t passed on the chance to be a leader for the Cubs team.

Speaking at the candlelight vigil in Florida was just one of the many ways he’s stepped up. And knowing that the Cubs have something to prove doesn’t hurt any.

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"“It’s just hard to match that intensity,” he said. “You know, you make a bad play and you shrug it off a little bit easier than if you make a bad play now and you’re a little ticked off because we haven’t proven anything now."

With spring training games starting tomorrow, everyone begins anew. The Astros are the defending champs, same as the Cubs were the year before. But this year’s team starts 0-0, same as everyone else. The Cubs will have something to prove again.