Exit Interviews – Anthony Rizzo
PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO
701 31 94 101 17 11.1 % 15.0 % .234
BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR
.289 .278 .387 .512 .384 145 1.9 38.6 -8.9 5.5
It would seem to be nitpicking to complain about Anthon Rizzo’s season. But I feel like in the midst of the euphoria about the team as a whole and the rush of claiming the Cubs finally had an MVP candidate on their team, because hey, that’s fun to say, we kind of missed something.
Rizzo’s 2015 really wasn’t any better, and probably slightly worse, than his 2014.
One less homer, walk rate down about 1%, batting average down, OBP almost exactly the same, slugging down 15 points, wOBA down a touch, wRC+ down 10, and WAR to 5.5 from 5.7. Some of that could be explained by a 20 point drop in his BABIP, as his batted ball stats were basically the same although he doubled the percentage of his infield pop-ups, which isn’t good.
Now, if Rizzo is tossing up 5-6 WAR seasons for his whole career he’ll probably get his number hanging flying from one of the fair poles one day. This is not to try and tear down an idol or be controversial for the sake of it. Anthony Rizzo is a very good player, one of the league’s best 1st basemen, and the Cubs are lucky to have him.
As the season went on, I thought I noticed that Rizzo got more and more swing happy. So I actually looked at numbers, and what do you know you can do that when it comes to baseball. It’s somewhat true, though probably not to the extent I thought. Rizzo’s swing-rate did jump from 44.3 in the first half to 49.7 in the second half. The percentage of pitches outside the zone he swung at did jump 6% as well. His contact rate went down as well. I thought these numbers would slide even more that way for the season’s last month, but they kind or remained on their 2nd half plane.
It might not be connected, but Rizzo’s 2nd half numbers while still good don’t even approach his 1st half when he was putting up MVP numbers. Then again, there was a 30-point drop in his BABIP, but that coincided with an 33% drop in his line-drive rate. Not many balls are going to fall in if you’re not hitting them as hard.
I would like to chalk this up to fatigue, because Rizzo simply never got a day off and that’s something that’s going to change next season. One way to study that was to see if Rizzo had a tough time catching up to fastballs as the season went on, but that’s not the case. He was just swinging at more pitches that weren’t fastballs.
Again, this is just chipping away at a sculpture (and Rizzo has been described that way by many others so you just pipe down). But there is room for more which is great to say when Rizzo is only 26. There’s obviously a lot of stuff with the Rizz we can’t measure. Because if David Ross is around for what he provides off the field, then Rizzo is clearly the leader in that category for the Cubs. He is the center of this team, and that became apparent this season.