During the season, Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon showed a penchant for moving many of his star players like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Starlin Castro, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez around the diamond. Maddon is someone who loves versatility and the ability to mix and match in certain situations. Anthony Rizzo was one of the few players that Maddon left alone as he enjoyed an excellent season establishing himself as the rock in the Cubs lineup and on the field.
With a lot of Cubs rookies getting attention, Rizzo’s season, where he hit .278/.387/.512 with a .899 OPS, 38 doubles, three triples, 31 home runs, 101 RBI and 17 stolen bases, seems to get lost in the shuffle. Rizzo led the team in every offensive category with the exception of triples (fourth) and stolen bases (second).
Much of the consistency comes from the fact that Rizzo continued hitting lefties and smashed a .294/.409/.472 line against them. He improved his clutch hitting batting .303 with RISP. He also continued to a stellar first baseman defensively as his 3.4 UZR/150 rating was eighth among the position. Lastly, Rizzo paced the whole league in hit by pitch with 30 making him the second player in Major League history with 30 or more HBP and 30 or more homers in the same season.
All those beanings may have taken their toll as Rizzo seemed to noticeably drop off as the season wore on. His .955 OPS led to some whispers about potential MVP talk in the first half, but his .833 OPS in the second half cooled that possibility.
Rizzo actually drove more runs in in the second half with 53, but batted just .255.
The second half slow down may also be attributed to a lot of use as Rizzo’s 160 games played were third in all of baseball and he rarely sat. Four other players, Chris Coghlan, Mike Baxter, Bryant and Baez saw time at first base coming to the plate a total of eight times with no hits. More regular rest may keep Rizzo fresher for longer and it is likely Bryant and Schwarber would be first in line depending on the matchups.
At 26 and signed through 2020, Anthony Rizzo’s best years are ahead of him and he’s definitely not going anywhere.
Cubs 2015 Position Reviews
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