Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo won his fourth Gold Glove, tying Mark Grace.
Look out Keith Hernandez, winner of 11 NL Gold Gloves, Anthony Rizzo is coming for you. The 31-year-old Chicago Cub has a ways to go to rack up seven more, but Hernandez won his eleventh at age 34 so perhaps anything is possible.
Rizzo’s fourth Gold Glove ties Cubs fan favorite Mark Grace who won four from 1992-1993 and 1995-1996. Rizzo has won his four in 2016 and 2018-2020, narrowly losing out to Freddie Freeman in 2017.
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This is a major achievement in itself made all the more remarkable by the fact that Rizzo is a cancer survivor. In 2008 he was just 18 and in A-ball with the Boston Red Sox when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was declared cancer-free later that year and went on to slash .297/.368/.461 the next season at A and High-A ball.
From there Rizzo slowly ascended the minor leagues, hitting twice as many homers in 2010 as in 2009 even though some basic metrics dropped. Traded in 2011 to San Diego, he took off, slashing .331/.404/.652 with a 1.056 OPS. His call-up to majors that year didn’t go well though, slashing a meager .141/.281/.242 in 49 games and 153 plate appearances.
One of the first trades the new Theo Epstein regime made was to send right-hander Andrew Cashner to the Padres for Rizzo in 2012. Ranked as one of the 50 best prospects in baseball at the time, the trade became a key building block in the rebuild.
In Triple-A for the Cubs in 2012, Rizzo slashed a ridiculous .342/.405/.696 and 1.101 OPS. That earned the 6’3″ first baseman his second shot at the Show, and he wouldn’t disappoint this time. Over nine seasons he has slashed a solid .274/.374/.492 and .866 OPS, won a Silver Slugger in 2016 and caught the last out of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, which no Cubs will ever forget.
Chicago picked up Rizzo’s 2021 $16.5 million option, after which he becomes a free agent in 2022 at age 33. It’ll be interesting to see what the team does from there with one of the best first basemen in baseball.