Chicago Cubs: Why is Anthony Rizzo struggling so much this season?

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(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Numbers only make this more confusing

In case you still haven’t checked out that Sharma piece I mentioned earlier, there’s one paragraph, in particular, I want to point out. He breaks down the impact of defensive shifts on Rizzo’s numbers this year – and comes away without a reason for the lack of production:

"It’s certainly odd that Rizzo is hitting the ball harder and on the ground less often into the shift, but they’re turning into outs much more frequently, but perhaps that’s just as simple as him being shifted a bit more thus far."

Speaking to his harder contact rate, the numbers don’t lie. In his career, he carries a 21.3 percent line drive rate. Last year, it had fallen to 20.1 percent – but this season, it’s climbed to 25.3 percent. Meanwhile, his soft contact rate is 15.8 percent – a full four percent lower than last year.

He’s hitting the ball harder and on a line more often than he did last year, when he spotted an .899 OPS in 157 games. So if it’s not a matter of the type of contact he’s making, what else could it be?