Coming into this season, there was a healthy contingent of Chicago Cubs fans who believed that, despite the labels, Anthony Rizzo’s 2013 season wasn’t as bad as the traditional stats made it seem. Looking closely, and watching Rizzo every day, it appeared as though there was a lot to like, in terms of future projection. It became clear early in the 2014 season – despite an 0-4 with 3K Opening Day performance that had reactionaries rolling their eyes – that Rizzo’s approach had taken an even further step forward, and great things were on the way.
Flash forward to the final week of the season, and Rizzo’s numbers look like this: .279/.378/.516, .388 wOBA, 147 wRC+, 11.5% BB rate, 18.9% K rate, .300 BABIP, 4.7 WAR.
That is the picture of a sustainable offensive force, and one that matches what we see every day at the plate: a comfortable, malleable, mature approach, much-improved against lefties, and well-adjusted with two strikes. In short: dude just looks good up there.
So it’s no surprise that, as Jeff Passan and Tim Brown took a look at how they’d vote in the NL MVP race, each had Rizzo – despite playing for a last place Cubs team – sixth on their ballot, behind the same five players (Kershaw, McCutchen, Stanton, Lucroy, and Posey). I can’t argue with that placement, which means Rizzo is getting the appropriate level of love from these guys. That’s awesome.
We’ll see if the actual voters wind up feeling the same way when it comes down to it. Playoff races tend to do wonky things to the voters’ heads, and Rizzo certainly won’t be in one of those.
Either way, I think it’s fair to say Rizzo has had an MVP-caliber season. Kudos.
(NL Cy Young picks are also in there, and Jake Arrieta does not wind up in either gentleman’s top five. I can understand it, given the innings, but let’s be clear on something: despite having just 149.2 innings, Arrieta has been worth the third most WAR (4.6) among all starters in the NL. That’s a top five Cy Young pitcher right there, when you consider he’s right up there behind Clayton Kershaw in every other meaningful stat.)