It’s probably a bit too easy – even for some of the more seasoned Cubs fans – to have a skewed perspective on how well Anthony Rizzo’s season is going so far. But the reality is he’s been just about as awesome as ever – and maybe more so.
If you remember back to the beginning of the year, you might recall that Rizzo had struggled through his first six games (32 PAs, 3 hits, 1BB, 7Ks) before hitting the disabled list with a sore back. And although he returned rather quickly (April 17th), he never quite looked like himself for those first several weeks.
And yet, since that return from the disabled list, Rizzo has slashed a phenomenal .291/.386/.497 (134 wRC+), which is actually a bit better than his 2017 season (133 wRC+) and career averages overall (131 wRC+). Think about that. Take out just the first six games of the year (when he was playing injured) and Rizzo has been slightly better than he was for all of last season, when he was obviously considered good. It doesn’t quite feel that way, right?
When we look at his rolling 15-game wOBA and wRC+ it begins to make a lot more sense:
As you can see, Rizzo enjoyed a nice little bump after his initial struggles but then hit a wall between games 50-80(ish). But lately, he’s been on an absolute tear, with a rolling wRC+ over 150 for far longer than you expect … and it’s still rising. And to be very clear, most of his peripherals show equally awesome trends, providing legitimate context and justification for this insane hot streak.
Look at his batted ball data, for example:
The soft contact just keeps trending down and the hard stuff is going up. How can you not love that? Speaking of his ever-increasing production, let’s hit the first of every month this season, to see what Rizzo’s stats have looked like since that date (I’m doing it this way, so as to not simply cherry-pick the best cutoff date … which I could and it would probably be more impressive, but then I’ll get yelled at #online).
Here’ is Rizzo’s slash line since …
April 1st: .286/.383/.487 (131 wRC+)
May 1st: .304/.398/.534 (145 wRC+)
June 1st: .305/.394/.520 (141 wRC+)
July 1st: .322/.418/.559 (158 wRC+)
All-star Break: .348/.447/.627 (182 wRC+)
August 1st: .345/.438/.627 (181 wRC+).
In Anthony Rizzo’s BEST offensive season (2014) he posted a 155 wRC+, which was the seventh best mark in all of baseball that year. He hasn’t quite hit at that level for this entire season, but he’s been even better than that for well over 2 months now. So basically, since the middle of June, we’ve had peek Anthony Rizzo and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
Alright, I can’t resist. Here’s one cherry-picked sample that’s too good to ignore. Over his last 80 plate appearances (August 15th), Rizzo has slashed an utterly insane .388/.475/.746 with 6 homers, 6 doubles, 15 runs scored, 13 RBI, 2 stolen bases, and a 15.0% walk rate that dwarfs his 11.3% strikeout rate. That is absolutely nuts.
And if you use FanGraphs’ “last two weeks” split, Christian Yelich and Rizzo lead all of baseball with a 245 wRC+. The next closest guy, Alex Bregman, is all the way down at 218. That’s how out of his mind he’s playing right now. That’s the MVP caliber first baseman the Cubs are used to seeing. What a turnaround this season has been.