Position Player Preview: First Base - Anthony Rizzo

Position Player Preview: First Base - Anthony Rizzo
The young talent in 2014 will point the Cubs in a new direction

This is the last of our position player previews and we're going with the position that is quite possibly the most set in stone for the next couple of years -- first base.  Unfortunately that is not to say there aren't question marks.

Anthony Rizzo really struggled in a number of areas last year.  He showed a steady decline from month to month, starting off hot with a 130 RC+, dropping to 119 in May, then down to 102, 96, and finally 81 and 82 by August and September.  It was a steady downward spiral to say the least.

Rizzo also struggled vs. LHP, against whom he was a well-below average hitter (,282 wOBA, 72 RC+) in 2013.

Yet, there is some optimism.  With Rizzo there was a combination of bad luck, good scouting from opposing teams, and falling into some bad habits.   The BABIP was a very low .258, something we can expect to improve, but as always it's not strictly about luck.  We saw a drop in his line drive rate, from 24.4% in 2012 to 19.6% in 2013.  And Matt Trueblood wrote an excellent piece over at Bleacher Nation on Rizzo's unsustainably low BABIP on groundballs.  It was .172, among the lowest in baseball.  It's noted in the piece that some of that goes with the territory as a slow-footed power hitter.  He has some good company in that respect.  Combine his lack of foot speed with the difficulties of trying to beat a defensive shift to his pull side and you can understand why he'd make a ton of outs in that fashion.  The amorphous blog of green on the right side of the infield in the chart below show illustrates that.

Rizzo chart

The good news is that this kind of poor BABIP on groundballs is not normally sustained long term. And some of it is within Rizzo's control. One thing Rizzo still needs to work on is not rolling his wrists over, a habit he fell into at times that exacerbates the groundball issue.

Overall, there is reason to believe Rizzo can improve on those BABIP numbers which will have a residual effect on his overall numbers.   Most projection systems see a bounce back season from Rizzo, although how much varies

  • Steamer is projecting a major bounce back for Rizzo at .268/.350/.501 with 31 HRs and a well above average .367 wOBA and 131 RC+.  He rates as a 3.6 WAR player despite a projection for well below average defense.
  • ZiPS and PECOTA are a little more modest in their offensive expectations.  ZiPS sees Rizzo at .255/.336/.464 (27 HRs) with a .343 wOBA while PECOTA has a sightly better .258/.332/.472 line.

It was a trying year for Rizzo but there is optimism here that Rizzo can at least supply LH power, a solid OBP, and good defense over at 1B.  It's pretty much what we should expect from Rizzo for his entire career and while it may not make him a superstar, he should at least be an above average starter on a good team.

 

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  • Why is steamer rating him "well below average" for defense? He is a plus defender....

    My biggest concern with him, is vs. LHP's... We may be able to spell him on occasion, but he really needs to be better/consistent here. He only needs to be average vs LHP and he's an AS candidate.

    He may also be the biggest beneficiary of a Baez/Bryant in the line-up.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I don't know, but it's a definite negative for some reason. I don't agree with it either, but I do like their offensive numbers for him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the PECOTA line of .258/.332/.472 is more realistic though. I'd be ecstatic if he could OPS the .851 Steamer is forecasting.

    Have you dove into his RHP/LHP splits much? I haven't, just looked at it on the surface... am I right to be concerned that that will be his real challenge to All Star consistency?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Not too much. Might be a project all on it's own.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John , if PECOTA projections are close, would it be worthy to consider Vogelbomb replacing Rizzo in 3 yrs if Rizzos numbers dont improve and VBombs defense does?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    There are a lot of IFs there. If Rizzo plateaus, if Vogelbach continues to develop as a hitter and if his defense is at least adequate by MLB standards, then you cross that bridge -- but right now there are too many things that have to happen. If I had to choose, I would say Rizzo probably outperforms Vogelbach overall if both play around their capabilities.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    That is probably my biggest concern RE: Rizzo as a prime-time player,.... can he up his numbers to respectability against Lefties?

    That being said - it probably isn't that hard to find a person to potentially platoon him with that is more acceptable against Lefties and that can cover 1B on defense adequately. Not that it would be an ideal situation,....

    How's Vitters against Lefties again?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Vitters has hit lefties pretty well in the minors, but he couldn't hit anything in his 100 MLB at bats. I just don't think Vitters is going to get first crack at a job, he is going to have to come in and overwhelm in order to get another chance.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I think Rizzo can at least hold his own against LHP but he's going to need the PAs to get there.

    Vitters hits lefties well but I wouldn't do a straight platoon, so I don't know if there are enough ABs there for him to be that useful.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed - that is a concern. Was mostly thinking of potential roles for Vitters (if he has a role at all) if he has a shot of making the roster this year.

    It adds some value to keeping him IF he can take some pressure off of Rizzo and be an adequate 1B defensively, in addition to being carried as a 4th/5th OF and emergency 3B.

    Given - that may not be enough added value to rostering him out of Spring Training unless he is just hitting a ton otherwise and forcing the issue.

    I guess in the back of my mind I think it might be too early to just give up on Vitters,... and could easily picture him having some value (for trade I'm thinking) to an AL team looking for a bat that can fill multiple positions in a pinch, and that might be a decent hitting DH option against Lefties.

    He really doesn't fit as a long-term piece on the Cubs team that is being built up. BUT that doesn't mean that they should just cut him if they can get any value back from him in trade.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I do think the Cubs have really avoided cutting Vitters from the roster and so I do think they'll give him another chance. This may be his last one, though. I don't know if he'll get the opportunity to build up any sort of trade value. His best chance to do that is at iowa, but even then I wouldn't expect much in return.

    I'm coming to terms that if Vitters has any success at the MLB level, it's not going to be with the Cubs. I think if he does succeed, it'll be as a part time player in the AL and it may not happen for a few more years.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Vitters can and will hit. Unfortunately, that's about all he does. If he could've stayed on 3B, he would have some value... but a utility/b-u corner OF who can play 1B in a pinch doesn't really have any trade value.

    Long term, we will need a utility guy that mashes LHP... So there is a role for him, but time is running out...and he's far from a finished product. He needs to start locking that down NOW.

    He will always be better suited for the AL with a DH position. What's most troubling for me is why he failed or whatever in winter ball this past year. Then basically lost all of 2013 to injury and once healthy, still didn't play this winter...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yeah he is never going to reach that steamer projection until he shows at least a little ability to handle left handers.

  • "He rates as a 3.6 WAR player despite a projection for well below average defense."

    What is with the mixed messaging from people on Rizzo's defense. I was under the impression that he was a very good defender with the chance to be great. I am so confused.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I think he's a good defender. Projection systems for defense are not as reliable as those for offense, so I wouldn't worry about it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And defensive metrics are thought to be less exact for 1B and C. I think there have probably been some advancements over the past couple of years, before that I know I wouldn't even bother looking at them for those positions. The metrics did not correalate well with what I saw with my eyes.

  • Not sure why Steamer is projecting below average defense from Rizzo. Isn't that (good defense) one thing you can count on him for?

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Sorry, didn't see all the questions above when I was posting my own... ChicagoNow comment lag.

  • Rizzo definitely rolls over way too often. It was really an extension of how often he was out in front on offspeed pitches last year. His timing and balance was terrible and it led to so many weak ground balls to the right side or Ks. He has flashed the ability to keep his weight back and drive a ball to the left center field gap, especially in 2012. He needs to bring that aspect of his game more consistently or he will never reach his potnetial. This will help fight the defensive shifts and his issues with lefties as well.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Agreed. Nice observations.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Are there any stats that separate out fastballs from off-speed? I have never seen a live game, only some videos.

  • I thought his defense was better in 2012. He just had a rough year all around in 2013. At times he looked lost at the plate and that can't be blamed on bad luck. This is a big year for Rizzo. Was last year a sophomore slump or what he is. Castro as well. Fortunately the Cubs have another wave on the horizon.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Metrics would agree with you on that. They had a bit of a dropoff for him on defense.

    I agree that some of the struggles were on Rizzo but there's almost always an element of bad luck with BABIPs that low. It's a combination of the two to some degree. There's good reason for optimism on Rizzo bouncing back.

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    The biggest problem I saw with Rizzo was flying open against left handed pitching. Not keeping his shoulder in. Hopefully, Mueller can help him with this. I also think playing a full season at the ML level took its toll on him at the end. I think he will have an even better season this year now that he knows what to expect.

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    The Cubs are committed to Rizzo for the long haul and they are counting on him to rebound. A combination of maturity, experience, effort and dedication, and Mueller's guidance will help. I think Rizzo does feel the pressure.
    Also, don't underestimate Vogelbach. He is the real deal and he will be a stud at the mlb level. The question is, will it be with the Cubs or another team. Vogelbomb lost weight every year since high school and he is pushing himself to become more coordinated and agile every off season. He is the kind of person that is going to be a self-made baseball player. I wouldn't put it past him that he could turn into a solid defender when it's all said and done. Starting next season, his presense could pose pressure for Rizzo.

  • In reply to Cubsforlife:

    I love VogelBOMB!... I agree he does work hard and only since he has turned has he paid any attention to nutrition, body mass, etc... I think he's got a shelf of several years as a 1B at the MLB level before being strictly a DH. But let's not kid ourselves.... he has to work very hard and be very diligent just to be an avg defender, which is probably his ceiling... But with his bat, that is enough to make him a MLB All Star.

    I doubt he ever plays 1B for the Cubs as I think they are committed and confident in Rizzo for the next several years....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think Vogelbach will be a very good ML hitter. I don't think he will ever unseat Rizzo at first though. The difference in defensive ability is too great. If the NL goes DH, Dan will be the man. I know there are some that are not fans of the DH. I can go either way, I don't hate it or love it.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I have never been the biggest Rizzo fan, but I think that after Sori was traded Rizzo took too much responsibility on himself to carry the load. As a previous poster stated, the best thing for Rizzo might be Baez and Bryant. I was hoping that the Cubs would sign someone to protect him in the batting order.

    If he doesn't hit lefties this year, or if his BRISP is still horrid Vogelbach will not be traded, just in case. On his defense, he was taking some of his batting problems out to the field. He will be fine.

  • Rizzo needs to learn to shorten up his swing when he gets behind in the count. It seems like he was trying to be a 40 home run guy last year and never looked to just drive the ball. This was especially true once Soriano left and Rizzo was the only power guy on the team.

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    In reply to Ike03:

    He was probably under the influence of Sveum, Rowson, and that Damn Deer guy!

  • My concern with Rizzo is the line up around him. I feel like with no protection around him, Rizzo gets pitched more carefully. With no other long ball threats around him, I believe this has had a impact on his numbers. I would love to see 31 hrs but I would be happy with 25. Does anyone else see the line up impacting Rizzo's stats?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I think it has an effect, but minimal impact... They still have to pitch to him and when you look at some of his AB's, he didn't scare anyone last year....

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    That's always a tricky question. Intuitively lineup protection makes sense but statistical studies have shown that it has little or no impact on individual performance. One thing is for certain, though == the Cubs do need a lot more good hitters in the lineup. Even if it doesn't necessarily directly affect Rizzo's performance, it will certainly help the Cubs overall performance.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the issue with line up protection is it only becomes truly important in certain situations, but the sample size of that is too low to show any significant impact to individual performance.

    Ie. runners on second and third with first base open in a close game, protection is really important, but in just about any other situation protection doesn't matter.

    Unfortunately, I think one thing lost in some of the offensive statistics thrown around is the importance of those situations. Ie, the samples are so small we disregard it, but it does have a higher significance to actual in game action.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I don't think the guys behind a hitter has any effect. I think the guys in front do though. Having good hitters in front of you means there are going to be people on base more often when you come to the plate. When a pitcher is working from the stretch they generally lose a bit of effectiveness and in combination with pitcher's attention on a potential basestealer I think a slight advantage is given to the hitter.

  • I hope we hang on to Vogelbach, because the league seems to have figured out Rizzo.

  • In reply to clarkaddison:

    It's just too soon to know exactly the impact that Vogelbach will have. Certainly, one has to like what he has shown so far. I like his approach at the plate, which last year was better than Rizzo' s, but let's see what happens at a higher level before assuming great things.

  • How much was Rizzo hurt by being with team Italy rather that in ST last year?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    That's hard to say. If there were issues with players from other teams, then maybe there is something to that but my guess is probably not. There were players away from spring longer than Rizzo.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for that question DropThePuck and your response John. I wondered the same thing because it seemed to contribute to Soto' s rough sophomore year as well. Maybe it effects younger players more. Often veterans never get in there groove if they miss ST for an injury or late signing.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Didn't hit well then either did he?

  • Obviously, production was a big issue for Rizzo last year, but I was more disappointed in his leadership. I believe he is a character guy with a big heart for the community, but I wanted him to step forward on the field and start to become the Cubs version of Paul Konerko. As the season wore on, unfortunately his body language became more and more passive at the plate and in the field.

    So, that's why I wouldn't write off Vogelbach. We've all seen that his teammates respect him and enjoy playing with him, while his outgoing personality would seem to lend itself better to the pressures of playing for the Cubs and building bonds with the next wave of core players that he has more successful shared experiences with.

  • Anthony Rizzo Swing Adjustment Analysis Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SL_-_nZdwyA

    When Rizzo would enter the batters box he would always stretch his back by leaning backwards. However, in the last couple of weeks of the season I noticed that he stopped doing that.

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    That stretch wasn't deep enough to have any physical effect and it was pre-pitch so it had nothing to do with his struggles.... What I would like to see is his swings from the 2nd half of last year when he couldn't hit anything inside, because he had the same issues pre-adjustment according to stats in that video...

    Thanks for sharing this link!

  • I was very dissapointed in Rizzo last year he never adjusted to what the pitchers did adjusting to his first season's approach. I'm not sure what the adjustment was the pitchers made but he could not seem to get any good wood on the inside stuff. That pile of amorphous red dots you referred to were so weakly hit that I'm not surprised at that low BABIP at all. So, what is the adjustment we need to see from him to overcome. Is it as simple as laying off the inside stuff?

  • Great stuff as usual John. I have to ask though why is there such a concern about Vogelbomb's size? Prince Fielder is a decent fielding 1B and he is an inch shorter and 25 pounds heavier than Dan is currently. Vogelbach also has a better fielding percentage (albiet a smaller sample size) than Fielder at a similar age. And really his minor league numbers at a similar age are not that different than Rizzo's. Vogelbach actually seems to have a better eye at this age as he has more walks and less Ks. Rizzo is hands down the best defender of the 3 and maybe that's the difference long term assuming he doesn't turn into the Darwin Barney of first base and is a defensive only player.

  • In reply to irishivy75:

    Thanks irish.

    I hear you and I would never want to say you can rule out Vogelbach because of his size because You will always find exceptions to rules. In baseball, scouts/GMs etc play probabilities when they try to project futures. There are far more players that don't have Vogelbach's body types that do. There are far more MLB pitchers who can hit 88 mph or greater than guys who can't. There are far more pitchers who are 6'0 feet and over than shorter than 6'0". It gets more nuanced than that, of course, but I'm just making a general point. For every 5'7" 2B who makes it, there are many more that don't.

    That doesn't mean guys won't buck those odds, but there is no question that the odds of those players making it are smaller based on the history of the modern game. Evaluators are simply playing percentages when it comes to the general mold of historically successful players. But every once in awhile somebody breaks that mold. Sometimes those trends are wrong.

    I will say this: I completely agree that in no way will size alone hold Vogelbach back. If he's going to hit and hit for power,. then somewhere, the Cubs or some team will find a place for him to play. If a guy can play, a guy can play. Talent comes in all shapes and sizes.

  • In reply to irishivy75:

    Vogelbach gets compared to Fielder because of his size, but they are different types of athletes. As you say, Fielder is actually bigger than Vogelbach, but he has quicker feet and quicker reactions that allow him to have better range and glovework.

    Just as not every 6'0" 190 pound athlete is the same, not every 6'0" 230+ pounder is the same. Some guys are just more fluid. And Fielder was and is more agile. Now that doesn't mean Vogelbach can't overcome his dificiencies. He might become a good enough hitter where his defense can be forgiven. Or he might continue to work hard and get himself in even better shape and make himself into a comepetent 1B. But he isn't good enough right now, and his size may be what prevents him from becoming that guy, even if Fielder was aguy that could overcome it.

  • Jeff Gordon takes time to trash the Cubs
    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/jeff-gordon/tipsheet-cubs-are-utterly-hopeless-again/article_dfec68ff-9d17-56f4-a6c5-87c049f274c1.html

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    In reply to Oneear:

    Actually, it's Passan's analysis that is really scathing. The other opinions are not too far off the mark, IMO....if you are looking at the NL Central in 2014, we don't figure to be particularly good. Finishing ahead of the Brewers is a realistic expectation.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I would be happily shocked if we finished ahead of the Brewers (assuming that's coming from big seasons from Castro, Rizzo, Castillo, Shark, etc.). Their free agent spending + getting Braun back has made them decidedly average.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Oh man. If Jeff Gordon says it, we're doomed :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I thought he was a Nascar driver.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    He is. I was just making a bad joke.

    In some ways, everyone randomly dumping on the Cubs is actually giving me some optimism.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's the same Jeff Gordon? I thought I was making a joke.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    The NASCAR Jeff Gordon probably knows more about baseball than this Jeff Gordon. He's just a Cardinal fanboy troll trying to pass himself off as a writer.

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    In reply to Oneear:

    He's the idiot that referred to Wrigley Field as "Wrigley Stadium" when they brought him in to sing the 7th inning stretch. He was deservedly booed.

  • If there was one thing Rizzo needs to change is his tendency to swing at inside pitches that are between his belt and shoulder. That spray chart shows what I saw all the time last year, Rizzo grounds out weakly to the right side a lot. If I were Meuller I would set up a pitching machine that would throw those pitches to Rizzo and teach him to lay off of those. I think you're article and assessment on Castro was spot on about teaching him what he should be swinging at and not to have him take more pitches. I think Rizzo is on the other end of the spectrum. Teach him to lay off those inside pitches and he never bats below .280 again.

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    The one thing with projections is they can only go off the existing data. With young players there can be wild swings with less data to use. Rizzo could have a disappointing season. Or he could hit .290 with 35 HR's. Sometimes young players can have a significant jump in output. The whole idea of a sophomore slump is based on the rapid development of young players that sometimes happens and surprises people. I'm not saying that's Rizzo or Castro, just that these projections can easily be wrong.

  • fb_avatar

    Freddie Freeman just signed an 8-year, $125 mil extension that will take him through his age 31 season. How does that compare to Rizzo's deal, which also goes through the Age 31 season?

    Freeman was certainly better in 2013. While we talking BABIP, though, Freeman's was .371 last year. Fangraphs had a piece saying much the same thing, that Freeman is due for some regression.

    Freeman is not as good a defender as Rizzo, and has less power. He likely will always hit for higher average, as he does have a LD swing that is nice.

    I like Freeman better, but do I like him $55 mil better? Granted Freeman was a further along toward FA than Rizzo, but that's a big difference. And of Rizzo's $68 mil, $29 mil is in the form of 2 club-friendly option years.

    Either the Braves overpaid for Freeman, or the Cubs underpaid Rizzo, or a bit of both. Unless you think Rizzo will always have a BABIP 50 points lower than Adam Dunn's, I think the value Rizzo brings will be higher than Freeman.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Have to agree here. I'm not sure Freeman is worth that much more than Rizzo (assuming Rizzo performs around his projected stats). I'm not sure I like the trend of prices suddenly rising like this.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're right, for those worrying about spiraling prices, the Freeman contract was troubling. Who knows what the future is.

    25 years ago this week, the reigning Cy Young champ Orel Hershiser was coming off a historic season where he pitched the Dodgers into the WS, winning WS MVP. He was the top pitcher in baseball, a model citizen, and ideal face to the franchise. Justifiably, the Dodgers showered riches on Orel, giving him the largest 3-year contract ever in baseball at that time:

    3 years, $7.9 mil

    Times change! Maybe we have to get used to it

  • Agree with comment above by HoosierDaddy. I saw Rizzo flail and bail at the inside fastball under his hands so many time last season. I like Rizzo very much and really hope he (and Castro) can turn it around this year.

  • I think Castro has a better chance of turning it around than Rizzo.

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    In reply to clarkaddison:

    I think there is a difference. With Rizzo, he could do the same thing he did last year and just be better, purely from improvement in luck. That's not to say he shouldn't tweak his approach, but even if he doesn't, he's likely to be better.

    Castro, on the other hand, was terrible last year. It wasn't luck, he was just terrible. He needs to actually change his approach, or change it back. I think he can do it, but that's not as easy as simply allowing the luck gods to catch up.

  • I see the biggest challenge with Rizzo is his ability to catch up to fastballs. There are too many articles and reports that show he was one of the worst fastball hitters in the league. That doesn't seemingly get better for people in the long run. He did have a deep load / a lot of noise in his swing last year. I am hoping he looks at how Andres Galaraga made adjustments to his stance, open up and simplify his load so he can react better once he identifies. He has the eye to be selective. If he does not we could very soon see Bryant at 1B

  • In reply to Gator:

    On second thought he is open enough. I think he wastes a lot of movement in his timing mechanism. I would love to see he keep his hands deeper to start so he is more efficient. I still think he needs to quiet the noise as well. I am sure he was pressing last year as well

  • In reply to Gator:

    http://www.gammonsdaily.com/2013s-top-10-best-worst-fastball-hitters/

    Barney not doing any favors either.

  • I could write an entire page about Rizzo's swing. But suffice it to say they, meaning Rowson or Suevm decided to use his hands, to "slow down his load". That is what I have read. It makes no sense to mess with a batter's hands unless they are creating a problem. It is just as bad as teaching from "the negative". There are three main issues I try to fix when I see a player pull too high a percentage of ground balls to the pull-side. One is too closed a stance, which doesn't allow extension inside the inside pitch, and more importantly naturally causes the bat to climb out of the plane of the pitch prematurely, topping the ball. Rizzo does not have this problem. Second is poor extension, resulting in the same effect, the bat not staying as long as possible on the plane of the ball. The third is poor hip rotation. Which acts just like very closed stance. In the first and third, the natural full-extension will not be back at the pitcher or slight toward the 2B fielder, but instead be toward the SS. Top the ball, top the ball.

    I think happened is Rizzo hands have slowed down his rotation. I don't want to get too wordy. But that may be why he moved further off the plate. Two other Cubs that got beat inside because of poor extension were Tyler Colvin and Hee Soep Choi. Late rotation means you can't throw your hands inside the ball, making contact out in front. I saw Rizzo actually extend toward the SS and yank inside pitches, wrapping the bat head around the ball to pull it. Get the hips up to speed and speed up the hands inside.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Well thought out analysis. I'm sure Mueller will be able to see all this, too. Some astute kinesiology may need to be put to work here.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Mueller will do better than I could. I train European National Softball Teams (fast-pitch). That is why I never see Cubs games. Coaching a baseball hitter beyond basics is different, but 98% is the same. I don't understand some of the Coaching excuse for changing his swing. The swing - goes from shoulder to shoulder! That means it lowers to the ball's level, then rises out of the hitting plane back to the front shoulder or above. Finish is a function of how "deep" the swing is, such as down at the knees, rather than mechanical. The more deep the swing path, less level, the more the bat finishes high. Of note, the higher the initial hand launch position starts, the deeper that initial swing path will be (sort of like chopping down). Rizzo never had this problem. He had a nice hand set position. My theory was always that if they wanted to slow him down, use a toe tap during his load (when he leans back, he brings the front knee back to "knock" with the back knee. Just incorporate a toe tap at that point. That will slow him down rhythmically, and not custom design any flaws into his mechanics or mess with something that isn't broken! Meuller will know.

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    Maybe I missed it but does anyone think that the extension Rizzo signed in May put more pressure on him to perform?? He was hitting like in the 280s to that point and hadn't struck out in like 38 plate appearances??? Just a thought.. Sveum and his batting coaches didn't help either...Anthony was not the same hitter in regards to going the opposite field and I'm convinced Sveum. Wanted him to pull for 40 bombs.. His snarky comments (Sveum) like o e about Junior Lake being the first legit kid coming up since he got here statement prob didn't sit well

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    here we go: just found this article. Rizzo CAN hit lefties (at home)

    http://rotobanter.com/2014-player-profile-anthony-rizzo-he-can-hit-lefties/

  • In reply to brober34:

    Rizzo plants his stride foot pointed back at the pitcher. This is common among players who get pull happy. Look at Jose Bautista! When the stride foot is not planted "parallel", pointed toward home plate instead of the pitcher, the front shoulder almost always opens up prematurely. That makes him weak on pitches away such as sliders as this article points out. It also makes a hitter weaker against off-speed.

    It isn't necessary to open the front foot to pull a pitch. In fact it is a power-leak! Pulls the chest out of a natural lean over the hitting zone (allowing plate coverage), pulls the head and eyes off of outside pitches, and causes the bat to climb prematurely out of the hitting plane, resulting in a shorter and level extension (ground balls not line-drives as I talked about above). He does this every at bat. That closed front foot should be opened by back hip rotation (or forward drive) or shall we say explosion. That is the linear aspect of hitting along with the bat head staying in the hitting plane a long time. This would be Frank Thomas (though he was very linear, not enough "rotational" for a smaller player to achieve good power).

    So in summation, if I was coaching him, I would let his hands do what they did before, since then and now they come to the exact same load point. I would incorporate the "toe-tap" in the load (weight shift back), and emphasize a closed front toe plant during the stride to prevent the front side rolling open.

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