Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

The Chicago Cubs’ offense has been surprisingly strong this year in the early going, and that’s thanks in large part to an overwhelmingly strong start for first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

With the Cubs down 2-0 in the early going, Rizzo stepped to the plate and brought the Cubs back:

Given where Rizzo sets up, I understand the desire to come in high and tight on him, but, well, he doesn’t really allow that.

The homer came as part of a day where Rizzo also doubled, singled, walked, and stole a base. Rizzo’s ISO, which was under .100 when the day started, rocketed up to .164.

On the season, Rizzo is hitting .345/.493/.509, which is almost comically good. The unsophisticated would probably point to his .370 BABIP as inflating that line, and they might be right to a small extent. But consider the following: Rizzo’s walk rate* is up to 15.1%, something that he’s looked like he’s earned every time he comes to the plate (he was at 11.9% last year, so 15.1% is a plausible, legitimate increase). Rizzo’s strikeout rate is down to just 11.0%, and, again, with how incredible his two strike approach has been, he’s earned that. And then you’ve got the 30.4% line drive rate, which may, itself not be entirely sustainable, but it demonstrates that Rizzo’s BABIP hasn’t solely been luck. It’s because he’s been ripping the ball.

*(And it could be even higher. Although Rizzo’s been hit by pitches six times – and, yes, that bumps up the OBP, too – at least two of those six came on pitches that were otherwise ball four. What might have happened in the other four plate appearances?)

Rizzo’s 183 wRC+ is good for 9th best in all of baseball. His .493 OBP is the very best in all of baseball.

And then there’s this:

That’s just nutty right there. It’s Barry Bonds-like (well, you know, if it extended over the course of a full season, and minus the enhancements).

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