When you find me a leadoff hitter with an OPS better than 3.750 in more than five game leadoff plate appearances, I’ll concede that Anthony Rizzo is not History’s Greatest Leadoff Hitter. Until then, come at me, bro.
Since moving into the leadoff spot, almost on a lark, Anthony Rizzo has hit .409/.458/.909 (249 wRC+), and basically hit three straight leadoff homers until a cabal of umpires aligned with the Illuminati and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting conspired to take the third away from him.
In his most recent leadoff outing, Rizzo doubled to open yesterday’s game, and promptly scoring the Cubs’ first run. Later in the game, he crushed career homer number 150:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 19, 2017
That baby was 105 mph off the bat, and traveled 425 very happy feet.
When this whole leadoff thing started, it felt like it was going to be a one-game, Joe-Maddon’s-being-crazy-to-lift-team-spirits thing. And it actually did sound at the time like it was going to be. But then Rizzo was raking, and it certainly hasn’t negatively impacted the offense or Rizzo, so why not roll with it?
For his part, Rizzo is on board:
Cubs 3-2, avg 7.3 rpg with Rizzo leadoff. "Listen, we win ballgames, I'll be the leadoff hitter for the rest of my career."
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) June 18, 2017
If it plays out that way, fine by me. The Cubs have have History’s Greatest Leadoff Hitter for the next 10 years.
Of course, Rizzo’s current hot streak actually goes back quite a bit further than his leadoff experiment. Dating back to when the Cubs returned home from their nightmarish 0-6 road trip out west on June 1, after the off-day on which Rizzo got engaged, Rizzo is hitting a blistering .386/.507/.719 (217 wRC+). He’s walked 19.7% of the time during that stretch while striking out just 12.7%. He’s had really locked-in plate appearances, where he hasn’t swung at garbage and has blistered the ball when it’s in the zone.
Odds are, none of this is about Rizzo hitting leadoff or getting engaged, and is merely about the fact that Rizzo is a really, really good hitter. But it’s fun to have the little stories to go along with the tremendous performance.
Well, OK, mostly it’s just fun to have the tremendous performance. May it continue forever and always for History’s Greatest Leadoff Hitter.