Anthony Rizzo finished his 2014 campaign with three hits, including a monster bomb to center field. He even stole a base because, hey, this is Rizzo’s world.
Not only did Rizzo emerge as something of a go-to “face” of the Chicago Cubs this year, the big first baseman emerged as something of a legit MVP candidate in the coming years (and was right on the cusp this year). I’d call Rizzo the Cubs’ MVP – he was – but that doesn’t seem to do justice to just how good he’s become. This is an elite player.
Don’t believe me? Consider the following:
- Anthony Rizzo hit .286/.386/.527, and increase of 53 points in BA from last year, 63 points in OBP, and 108(!) points in SLG. That’s an overall OPS increase of 171 points. Good Lord.
- Rizzo’s .397 wOBA was the 7th best in all of baseball, and third best in the NL, behind only Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton. His 153 wRC+ was 9th best in baseball – once again, behind only McCutchen and Stanton in the NL.
- Rizzo’s 5.3 WAR was a 3.6 win improvement over last season. It made Rizzo the 16th most valuable offensive player in baseball, tied with guys like Robinson Cano, Jose Abreu, and Miguel Cabrera.
- Rizzo hit 32 homers, second most in the NL, despite missing 22 games (Giancarlo Stanton was first at 37, and he missed 17 games – that guy’s a freak).
- Rizzo did all of this with beautifully sustainable peripherals. His 18.8% K rate was a slight tick up from last year, but still below league average. His 11.9% walk rate was 16th best in baseball (tied, incidentally, with teammate Luis Valbuena). Rizzo’s .311 BABIP was essentially identical to the .310 mark in his rookie year, making last seasons’s .258 look more like the outlier than the baseline.
- Rizzo was also the 5th best defensive first baseman by UZR/150.
- He also crushed meatballs.
I don’t know where he’ll actually land on ballots, given the Cubs’ struggles and the lack of national hype, but Anthony Rizzo should absolutely be in the top 10 in the NL MVP voting this year. From there, the sky’s the limit, especially when the Cubs’ lineup feature a number of offensive forces surrounding Rizzo.* It seems unfair to expect a repeat of this level of dominance from Rizzo next year, but it’s impossible not to be excited about that possibility. Hell, at 25, and given his drive, Rizzo could be even better next year.
Congrats to the Cubs’ MVP on a great season.
*(That’s not a lineup protection thing, it’s just a comment on the exponential nature of offense (which is a real thing).)