Cubs: Anthony Rizzo is ready to get back to his 30-100 ways in 2021

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

Things you can count on. The sun will rise and it will set. Socks disappear somewhere between the laundry basket and the process of folding. Anthony Rizzo putting up consistent numbers and giving you Gold Glove-caliber defense on an annual basis.

For the first time in his Chicago Cubs career, Rizzo failed to do that last year. He did bring home the fourth Gold Glove of his career for his defensive work at first base, but by most measures, he took a step backward offensively, slashing just .222/.342/.414 in 58 games. In terms of OPS+, he was still an above-average offensive player, but he wasn’t what we’ve come to know and love.

Cubs: Anthony Rizzo is off to the races in Cactus League action

But early this spring, he’s looking hungrier than ever, ready to lead a Cubs team most people have already written off following an offseason that was focused more on shedding payroll than making substantive additions.

"“Early on it just felt like he was a little late in the first game, but he adjusted quick,” Cubs manager David Ross said of his All-Star first baseman. “It looks like he’s ready to fire on every pitch. … When he’s like that, he’s one of the best players in the game, and it seems like he’s in a good place right now.”"

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Rizzo already has two towering home runs in Cactus League action. And, yes, before you say it, I’m well aware that it’s only spring training. But guess what? Until Opening Day, this is what we have to talk about and coming out of 2020 and all its craziness, I’m happy to draw way-too-early conclusions based on a week of spring action.

Even in a down year by his own standards, Statcast looked at several areas of Rizzo’s offensive game favorably last year. His whiff rate ranked near the bottom of the league, which is no surprise to anyone familiar with his game, along with his strikeout rate, walk rate and outs above average.

A consistently high on-base presence Rizzo is a rare breed of hitter, capable of belting 30 home runs while getting on, whether that be via a walk or a choke-and-poke approach, depending on what the situation calls for.

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It’s early, but the Cubs legend looks ready for a big bounce back showing in 2021. With fans back in attendance and everyone writing off the team, this could be a perfect storm for Anthony Rizzo to turn in a career year.