Chicago Cubs need Anthony Rizzo to lead and help create new identity

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

For years, Anthony Rizzo had been the unofficial captain of the Chicago Cubs. But he could face increased scrutiny in 2020 as the team looks to rebound.

With Pedro Strop a free agent, Anthony Rizzo stands alone as the last carryover from the dark days – when the focus was on draft picks, not the standings at the big league level. Entering a new era, the Chicago Cubs will need Rizzo more than ever moving forward.

I’m not alone when I say that Rizzo should be this team’s captain – and maybe under first-year manager David Ross, that could come to fruition. But regardless of whether or not the Cubs put the ‘C’ on his jersey in 2020, the slugging first baseman will have to take an even larger role in the clubhouse if Chicago wants to get back to their winning ways.

This weekend, Rizzo earned his third Gold Glove for his defensive work at first base – hardly a surprise to anyone who watches him on a regular basis. With the bat, he was, once again, as consistent as ever, turning in a .924 OPS – his best single-season mark since 2016, when he finished fourth in National League MVP voting.

"“He’s known for his hitting, and people recognize his defense,” former Cubs skipper Joe Maddon told late in the season. “He fields his position so well. He throws really well as a first baseman also. He’s a fearless thrower. So we can do things on defense with him that we can’t do with somebody else out there. There’s different little nuanced things that we do that are a little more difficult when he’s not playing first.”"