Five games ago, Anthony Rizzo was hitting just .118/.225/.235 with a 33 wRC+, 67% worse than league average. His performance was fitting in with the rest of the offense, and you could sense some of the outside punditry gearing up their “Did Rizzo make a mistake in those contract negotiations” takes.
Well, five solid games later, and Rizzo is hitting a very Rizzo-like .250/.344/.500 with a 127 wRC+, a 13.1% BB rate, and a 14.8% K rate. That overall line could stand to come up a bit for him – and it probably will – but the point is that now, on the whole of the short season, he’s basically been Rizzo. Just normal ole Anthony Rizzo. That’s what happens in these tiny samples of the early season.
To have even more fun with the small samples and give you a little more context and meaning, how about this. Last year, during the shortened season, Rizzo hit .222/.342/.414 with a 103 wRC+. For him, quite poor. QUESTIONS arose! And if you’d looked only at the first 10 games this year, adding to last year, he’d be down to a .207/.325/.388 line with a 94 wRC+. Below average! UH OH!
… but even that 68-game sample is so small that you add in these last five games – just five games – and suddenly, Rizzo’s slash line from all of last year and all of this year so far is up to .227/.342/.431 with a 108 wRC+. That’s a 14-point jump in wRC+ from just five games, when you would’ve narratively been able to say Rizzo was really bad “all of last season and so far this season” less than a week ago.
Take that as your reminder not only about early-season stats – you already knew that – but about how “last season” is, itself, such a small sample. As we’ve discussed, you’re just gonna have to look at that 2020 data on a case-by-case basis to see if it really tells you much of anything. For a guy like Rizzo, who is as steady as they come when he gets a full season – but as streaky as they come over month-long stretches – I don’t think 2020 does you much good as a data point without a lot more on either end of it.
Oh, also? Since we’re having fun with five-game bookends anyway, I’ll note that Rizzo ended last season on a hot little five-game stretch. Add those five games into his season so far this year? And he’s up to a .269/.375/.567 (151) line over his last 20 games. It’s all just fun stuff, man.
Speaking of which, Rizzo’s two dingers from last night: