Former Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo putting up monster numbers

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees / Elsa/GettyImages

Nearly two years ago, when Jed Hoyer faced the music and traded not one, not two, but three faces of the franchise in a 24-hour span, it meant this generation's Mr. Cub, Anthony Rizzo, wouldn't finish his career with the Cubs, but would instead begin a new chapter in the Bronx.

Since the 2021 season, Rizzo has only gotten better (at least in terms of OPS+) with each passing year - and he's off to a scorching hot start in 2023. The 33-year-old first baseman carries a .903 OPS and 149 OPS+ into action Sunday, playing a key role for the Yankees as they try to chase down the Rays in the AL East.

"He’s been in there every day. His swing really started to lock in the last day or two of spring training where he was starting to get going a little bit, carried it into the season and has been rock solid. That’s what he’s been. A great presence in the middle of our order, really consistent and like he usually always does, big hits come with him.

Aaron Boone on Anthony Rizzo

The end of his time with the Cubs was fraught with drama, as is often the case when any long-term relationship draws to a close. But as time has passed, multiple free agents have spoken to Rizzo about his time in Chicago and, by all accounts, he's always had nothing but praise for the organization.

Anthony Rizzo built a lasting legacy during his time with the Cubs

It's hard to put Rizzo's legacy on the North Side into words. He was the common thread weaving its way through it all: a 101-loss 2023 campaign, putting the league on notice with an improbable 2015 run to the NLCS, that long-coveted World Series title the following year and a slow decline from that peak in the seasons that followed.

Three All-Star selections, four Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove, a Silver Slugger and that everlasting image of his arms raised in jubilation after receiving the game-ending throw from Kris Bryant in Game 7. He won't soon be forgotten. Watching him take his game to new heights in 2023, though, has the tendency to rub fans the wrong way as the first base position continues to be a question mark for the Cubs.

Rookie Matt Mervis is learning the ropes at the big league level; while at-bats continue to go to guys like Eric Hosmer, as well. The job is Mervis' to lose down the stretch - and after setting the minors ablaze at the plate at every level he touched, the hope is he can be the first true heir to Rizzo the Cubs have had since trading the fan favorite two years ago.


For now, we wait and see - and Rizzo's rise to prominence can offer some optimism. His first taste of MLB action didn't go well; but with time, he's become one of the most consistent first basemen in the entire league and his body of work with New York this year is just the latest feather in his cap.