Last year after joining the Yankees at the trade deadline, longtime Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo popped eight home runs and drove in 21 runs in 49 games down the stretch. This year, however, he’s already got a league-best nine long-balls to go with 21 RBI – and he’s done it in just 20 ballgames.
Now, this is a wholly unsustainable pace. Rizzo is slugging north of .700, which just isn’t going to be a thing over the course of a full season. He’s already benefitted from Yankee Stadium’s infamous short porch in right field – and he’s gotten off to that aforementioned scorching start, ranking fourth all of baseball with a 1.094 OPS.
That bodes well for a guy who had to ‘settle’ for a shorter-term pact than he seemed to initially target. After turning down a reported five-year, $70 million offer from Chicago last spring, Rizzo wound up returning to the Yankees in free agency on a one-year, $16 million deal with a player option for 2023. But, so far, that decision seems to be paying off nicely.
"“It’s not like I’m sitting here saying I wish I had taken it,” Rizzo told NBC Sports Chicago. “If I play four to six more years, I’m going to make more money than I would doing that. When it’s all said and done, we’ll see. But as of now, no regrets.”"
Cubs: Kris Bryant hits the IL with a lower back injury; still looking for HR
As for his former fellow corner infield partner on the North Side, Kris Bryant, he’s gotten off to a slower start in his new home – and has now landed on the IL with a back injury he’s been battling through for a week or so.
"“He would never tell you that, but I do think it has limited him,” Rockies manager Bud Black said."
It’s not that Bryant has been bad by any stretch. But he also hasn’t been the offensive force the Rockies were hoping for when they inked the former Rookie of the Year and MVP to a seven-year, $182 million deal this spring, either. He hasn’t been hitting the ball hard at all, ranking in the bottom three percent of the league in average exit velocity entering action Saturday, and is still searching for his first home run with Colorado.
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Battling through lingering injuries is nothing new for Bryant – as Cubs fans are well aware. That was too often the case during his Chicago tenure. We know all too well that he will play through just about anything, although the results suffer more often than not.