Anthony Rizzo had an excellent year, one that might be overlooked somewhat due to Jake Arrieta’s second half and subsequent NL Cy Young Award, Kris Bryant being named NL Rookie of the Year and the breakout performance turned in by Kyle Schwarber.
Rizzo’s sensational season was recognized by the BBWAA when he finished fourth in the voting for the Most Valuable Player in the National League. And some in the game think Rizzo should have been one of the top three finalists for the MVP award.
For the year, Rizzo ended up hitting .278/.387/.512 with 38 doubles, three triples and 31 home runs for a .899 OPS. Rizzo drove in 101 runs and was hit by a pitch 30 times.
Rizzo earned a trip to the All-Star Game after batting .298/.413/.542 with 24 doubles, two triples and 16 home runs for a .955 OPS in the first half. Rizzo slowed down after the break and managed a .255/.355/.478 slash line with 14 doubles, a triple, 15 home runs and a .833 OPS. In hindsight he should have been given more time off to keep him fresh. Rizzo played all but two games in 2015.
Rizzo made a lot of improvement with runners on base and in scoring position.
Rizzo hit .311/.432/.545 with runners on base with 17 doubles and 13 home runs for a .977 OPS. With runners in scoring position, Rizzo had a .303/.418/.577 line with a .995 OPS and with RISP and two outs, Rizzo was 16-for-57 (.281/.468/.544/1.011) with half of those hits going for extra bases (four doubles, one triple, three home runs).
Anthony Rizzo may not have performed in the post-season the way he wanted or was expected, but he did launch the winning home run in Game 4 of the NLDS that sent the Cubs to the National League Championship Series.
Here are highlights and homers from eight of Anthony Rizzo’s best games of the season and the Cubs’ run in the playoffs …
May 6 vs. Cardinals at Busch Stadium – Cubs Finally Close One Out in St. Louis – Cubs 6, Cardinals 5
The Cubs finally put one in the win column in St. Louis. The Cubs’ 25 and under club drove in all six runs and Jon Lester picked up the win.
Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and three RBI. Rizzo hit a solo home run in the third inning and plated two runs with a double in the fifth.
The game in which the Cubs learned how to put away the Cardinals at Busch Stadium is remembered more for Starlin Castro mimicking Kris Bryant on a throw to first base.
May 23 vs. Diamondbacks at Chase Field – RIZZO! – Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 6
After Jorge Soler tied the game with a solo homer in the eighth, Anthony Rizzo gave the Cubs the lead with a three-run shot in the ninth inning. Rizzo tied a career-high with six RBI and just missed a Grand Slam in the fifth that went as a bases clearing double. Rizzo was 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and six RBI.
July 7 vs. Cardinals at Wrigley Field – Arrieta and the Cubs Knock Off the Cardinals – Cubs 7, Cardinals 4
The Cubs swept a day-night doubleheader against the Cardinals at Wrigley on July 7 and Anthony Rizzo was right in the middle of all the scoring in the opener.
Rizzo reached base four times, drove in two runs and scored two runs. Rizzo went 2-for-3 with a home run, two walks, two RBI and two runs scored.
July 30 vs. Brewers at Miller Park – Rizzo Rocks the Three-Run Homer – Cubs 5, Brewers 2
The opener of a four-game series at Miller Park was not going well for the Cubs. Jimmy Nelson pitched seven innings of two-hit shutout ball and the Cubs were trailing the lowly Brewers 2-0 with two on and two outs in the eighth inning.
Anthony Rizzo turned the game, and series around, with one swing of the bat. Rizzo crushed a three-run homer off lefty Will Smith. The Cubs took a 3-2 lead, tacked on two more runs in the ninth and won 5-2. The Cubs went on to sweep the four-game series at Wrigley North.
August 12 vs. Brewers at Wrigley Field – A Miggy Mash Walks Off the Brewers in Extras – Cubs 3, Brewers 2
The Cubs pulled a game out against the Brewers at Wrigley Field in which the defense had issues in the ninth. Miguel Montero went opposite field in the 10th for the game-winner. It was Anthony Rizzo that provided the defensive highlight of the year in the win.
Rizzo actually turned in two defensive gems that night but in the sixth inning the Cubs’ first baseman stepped on top of the tarp and reached into the crowd to catch the foul ball off the bat of Ryan Braun. It wasn’t magic that night for Rizzo, just The Catch that will be shown on highlight reels for years to come.
September 4 vs. Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field – Russell and Rizzo and Baez, Oh My! – Cubs 14, Diamondbacks 5
The Cubs broke out the bats and hit four home runs on a rather windy day at Wrigley Field. Eight of the 14 runs scored in the fifth inning that Friday afternoon. And Anthony Rizzo drove in half those runs in the fifth with one swing of the bat.
Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk, four RBI and two runs scored on the afternoon. The homer was a Grand Slam, the second of his career.
Addison Russell went deep twice and Javier Baez homered as the Cubs pounded the Diamondbacks in early September.
September 8 vs. Cardinals at Busch Stadium – Rizzo, Castro Supply the Power, Cubs Hold On to Beat the Cardinals – Cubs 8, Cardinals 5
Anthony Rizzo homered and drove in three runs. And Starlin Castro smacked a three-run homer in the second inning and plated four runs on the night.
Rizzo went 2-for-4 with a home run, a walk and three RBI and it was a two-run homer in the first inning that marked a milestone for the first baseman. Rizzo took Michael Wacha out to center field for the 100th homer of his career, 99th with the Cubs.
October 13 vs. Cardinals at Wrigley Field – Cubs Power Downs the Cardinals, Cubs Advance to the NLCS – Cubs 6, Cardinals 4
The Cubs took a two games to one lead in the best of five series versus the Cardinals. With John Lackey on the hill, the Cardinals jumped out to an early lead. After Jason Hammel put the Cubs on the board with a two-out single, Javier Baez smacked a three-run homer off Lackey that gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead. But the Cardinals tied the game at four in the sixth inning and appeared to take all of the momentum in the game … until Jorge Soler threw out Tony Cruz at the plate to end the top of the sixth.
Anthony Rizzo launched a 0-2 pitch with two outs in the sixth into the bleachers in right … and gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead. Kyle Schwarber hit a solo shot in the seventh that landed atop of the Schwarboard and the Cubs won 6-4.
It was Rizzo’s blast that was the game-winner and put the Cubs into the NLCS.