Chicago Cubs: Comparing the National League Central’s first basemen

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Rizzo comes in second in the race

Like the last two gents, Anthony Rizzo has been the model of consistency during his tenure with the Chicago Cubs. The Chicago first baseman has hit 30 home runs or more in four of the last five seasons. He’s a three-time All-Star with two Gold Glove awards over at first.

Compared to Goldschmidt and Votto, he doesn’t stick out in one particular place. After all, he’s just a career .855 OPS player. His highest career fWAR was in 2015 at 6.4 and it’s decreased a full point every season since. However, this season he’s seeing an uptick in his production due to the entire Cubs lineup’s production.

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He’s already at 1.2 fWAR after posting just a 2.7 fWAR in 2018. He’s slugging .532, the second-highest mark of his career and his .911 OPS is the third-best of his career. The value Rizzo brings is his ability to not strikeout. He’s avoided striking out more than 100 times each year since 2016 and if you added his hit by pitches with his walks he’d easily have more walks than strikeouts over the last three seasons.

Last year, despite hitting 25 home runs, it felt like Rizzo’s power had taken a step back. His 25 trots around the base paths were the lowest since 2013 when he only hit 23 long balls. His 29 doubles were also the lowest since 2014 for Rizzo. On May 14, 2018, Rizzo only had six home runs and posted OPS of .690.

A year later he’s up to 10 home runs and an OPS over .900. Rizzo might not flash Hall of Fame numbers year in and year out, but he’s been nothing but consistent for the Cubs since they’ve entered their winning window. It’s nice to see him start the season strong compared to his forgettable first half in 2018.