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Would You Rank Anthony Rizzo the Top 1B in Baseball? I Would, But It’s Close, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

That was a long weekend, eh?

Back to the regular week, and Cubs-related stuff …

  • Mike Petriello has been rolling out his own set of positional rankings around baseball (recently, he put Addison Russell in the six spot at shortstop, which is high praise when you consider the next Bullet (but, hey, stick with the rest of this Bullet first)). He just got to first base, and right up there at the top is the Cubs’ own Anthony Rizzo. When you consider Rizzo’s age (27), consistency at the plate (155, 145, and 145 wRC+ marks the last three years), and his defense at first base (Gold and Platinum Glove winner last year), maybe this is an easy argument. That said, consider the impressive group of four just behind Rizzo: Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, and Freddie Freeman. If you urged me, I could make an argument for any of those four ahead of Rizzo, and that’s mostly where Petriello lands, too: there are a clear top five first basemen in baseball, and you could order them in a variety of ways.

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  • For me, by the way, if the question is “which guy do you want for the 2017 season (irrespective of contract, because you’re just getting him for 2017),” my order would probably go Rizzo, Votto, Goldschmidt, Freeman, Cabrera, and I wouldn’t be at all convicted in those selections. It’s just so hard to separate them for 2017.
  • (Anytime I talk about Joey Votto this offseason, by the way, I can’t help but think about how quietly all-universe he was in the second half for a terrible Reds team: .408/.490/.668. Fun fact, though, here’s what Bryce Harper hit for the entire 2015 season: .330/.460/.649. Harper’s brutal drop-off to just .243/.373/.441 in 2016 hasn’t been ignored, but is just me, or is that another really quiet story, relatively speaking? (My mind wanders in these parentheticals sometimes. I think about baseball a lot.))
  • As Travis Sawchik writes at FanGraphs, 2016 was the best year ever for shortstops – no, like, literally and statistically by WAR. Of course, relative to pre-162 days, that WAR is slightly inflated, but even if you prorate the total big league shortstop WAR in 2016 to 150 games, only one season – 1964 – beats it. But the most incredible part comes in this line: “The average age of the top-15 WAR producers among shortstops last season was 23.8. 23.8!” Repetition and exclamation point noted and necessary. A very interesting read on a group that, of course, includes the Cubs’ Addison Russell (who is even more exceptionally young).
  • Jesse Rogers has a feel-good Kyle Schwarber story about the World Series hero playing IRL hero to a boy who had an autograph stolen. And if you missed it last night, Schwarber is also good at photobombing.

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  • White Sox color man Hawk Harrelson is probably not a popular figure around these parts, but he’s nothing if not an enthusiastic straight shooter. So when The Athletic asked him questions about the Cubs, Joe Maddon, the World Series, etc., he gave some actually thoroughly enjoyable responses. Among his many comments, he had this to say about the White Sox and Cubs: “[White Sox owner Jerry] Reinsdorf ain’t going to sit on his ass and let those guys dominate us for another five, six years. Because they’re going to be there another five, six years in their league. We want to get some kind of parity. He’s too much of a competitor and they made a good start right here.” It’s a reminder that competing with the Cubs is something the White Sox actively think about, even if it isn’t always at the top of Cubs fans’ minds. And I can understand it, given the way the Cubs have developed the following they have over the years, and some of the institutional advantages the Cubs have had historically vis a vis the White Sox. That’s not really what the Hawk Harrelson piece was about, by the way. I guess I just got a little sidetracked there. Mercy.
  • I want to share Luis’s morning Bullets from TYL, and I’m going to share it in the form of a tweet so that I can also ask you to slap that follow button:

  • And you could also slap it on this one, thanks to a funny Enhanced GIF Michael put together:

  • And so that you don’t accuse me of sharing only non-BN tweets:

  • If you think you may have missed anything this weekend, catch yourself up here. Also, earlier this morning, we learned that David Ross will have a gig at ESPN this year.
  • Well that’s a handy do-hicky for 50% off today at Amazon (under $15): a tire pressure gauge that also has a flashlight, and a bunch of swiss-army-like tools.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.