Anthony Rizzo's Batted Ball Numbers Aren't What You'd Expect and Other Bullets

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Anthony Rizzo’s Batted Ball Numbers Aren’t What You’d Expect and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

anthony rizzo featureHappy Valentine’s Day to the lovers among you. When I searched for “cubs love” on Amazon just to see what it would return in honor of the holiday, this, um, erotic(?) novel entitled “Cubs” was among the top results. It’s about shape-shifters and lone bears and … I don’t know. Searching “cubs” together with other words on Amazon, man. You don’t know where it’s going to land you.

OK, back to the kind of “Cubs” we care about …

  • I couldn’t help but notice in this batted ball review of first basemen at FanGraphs that Anthony Rizzo was below average in virtually every batted ball category last year, relative to other first basemen – he hit the ball more softly on average, popped the ball up way more, hit fewer line drives, etc. I knew this was a thing back from when I looked at various Cubs’ exit velocities last year, but seeing it all compared against other first basemen is interesting.
  • Normally, were it a player on another team, you’d point to this and wonder about regression the following year, but I’m not so sure. For one thing, Rizzo’s propensity for fly balls is not necessarily a bad thing, given his power. For another thing, Rizzo hardly ever strikes out, which gives him a lot of margin for error on his balls in play (since he puts so many of them in play (indeed, I wonder how much his exit velocity numbers are impacted by his ability to put two-strike pitches in play)). I don’t want to be a total homer apologist here, and maybe we will see some regression in the results for Rizzo next year (for one thing, I doubt his OBP gets the same level of injection it got from HBPs in 2015), but it’s worth keeping in mind that his BABIP (.289) was pretty typical for him. It’s not like he was getting lucky in a very fundamental way, despite his quality of contact.
  • Fun aside on Rizzo’s power: his 31 homers last year were 6th in the NL, but if you want to find a guy on that list who beats Rizzo’s 15.0% strikeout rate, you have to go all the way down to number 22 – A.J. Pollock, who struck out just 13.2% of the time, but also hit only 20 homers. The ability to put the ball in play that consistently AND hit for huge power is really unique and special.
  • Also noticed while sorting that list on FanGraphs: Chris Coghlan had the 23rd best ISO in the NL last year at .193, just one spot behind Andrew McCutchen.
  • In a reminder that the CBA negotiations are always looming, MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark mentions that it’s disappointing that quality free agents remain unsigned. It would be an upset in the extreme if draft pick compensation/draft bonus pools are not restructured in the next CBA. (And it should be. Tying draft pick compensation to qualifying offers (only for players who were with their team the full year previously) and then simultaneously going to a hard-slotting bonus pool set-up was a big mistake from day one.)
  • If you’re going to fake like you got hit by a pitch, it’s best to make sure the pitch was a lot closer to you than this.
  • Also, a fun fact:

  • These are some mighty awesome pants, Bill Murray:

Author: Brett Taylor

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