Anthony Rizzo Proving Cubs are More Than Just Prospects

Anthony Rizzo Proving Cubs are More Than Just Prospects

Another game, two more home runs for Anthony Rizzo. Yawn. After entering the game in a dead heat with Giancarlo "Don't Call Me Mike" Stanton, Rizzo went yard twice on Tuesday night off of Padres pitchers. That gives him 5 in 4 games out of the All Star break and 7 in the last 10 games.

Rizzo now leads the Cubs in runs (67), home runs (25), RBI (55), batting average (.283), OBP (.385), SLG (.539; Mendy's .605 doesn't count yet), OPS (.924), oWAR (2.9), and fights picked (1). That's a pretty set of stats for a guy who, after batting .233 last year, had people wondering whether trading Andrew Cashner to acquire him was a good idea.

But nobody's questioning the move any longer, as Rizzo continues his ascent toward superstar status and Cashner nurses yet another injury in the visitor's dugout. And yeah, you read that right; Rizzo is trending toward superstardom. After being left off of the NL squad for the Midsummer Classic, Rizz garnered 8.8 million votes to earn the Last Man spot.

While you can chalk to up to Chicago's large population (Chris Sale of the White Sox earned the AL spot), that doesn't change the fact that the hype helped to put the Cubs cornerstone corner infielder on the national map. And rather than rest on his laurels or shy from the spotlight, Rizzo has excelled in the face of the added attention.

He's proving that the contract extension he received very soon into his major league career was a wise move on the part of a front office that has acquired him three separate times. Jed Hoyer was a part of the Red Sox brass that first drafted Rizzo, then was with the Padres when they acquired him in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, and he was with the Cubs when they made the aforementioned swap for Cashner.

In fact, when I think of Jed Hoyer's dogged pursuit of Rizzo, I can't help but be reminded of that famous line from The Last of the Mohicans: "Stay alive, no matter what occurs. I will find you." Much like Daniel Day Lewis, Anthony Rizzo has established himself as a leading man, in more ways than one.

His exploits at the plate speak for themselves and his glove, well...

And if "Yeah, great catch, but it allowed the go-ahead run to score" even crosses your mind, I will kindly tell you where to go and how to get there. Dude was going all out, risking his body on a play for a last-place team with no hope of going anywhere. That tells me all I need to know about what he's willing to do when the Cubs turn the corner.

During a time in which the only real excitement with the Cubs involves their minor league players, Anthony Rizzo is giving fans someone to rally around. Sure, Starlin Castro has rebounded and that's all well and good. But he was already a two-time All Star who had had some really solid seasons.

This coming out party for Rizzo is a sign that the Cubs are at least doing something right. His at-bats are becoming destination baseball and he may have usurped Theo Epstein's status as the face of the franchise, something many of us have been waiting patiently for an actual player to do.

So even as the Cubs limp toward another 90+ losses, there will still be a reason to watch them down the stretch instead of turning all of our attention to the farm. And speaking of prospects, Rizzo's growth into a leadership role may well ease the transition of those players into the limelight of the North Side.

Though he won't turn 25 until early August. Anthony Rizzo is already one of the elder statesmen on this Cubs team. As such, it's becoming more and more evident each day that his presence on the field, in the lineup, and, perhaps most importantly, in the clubhouse are valuable assets.

At the risk of being a bit premature in this comparison, I can see Rizzo as a Ryne Sandberg-type player moving forward, a quiet leader who sets an example for the rest of the team. Other players will certainly garner a great deal more hype in coming months and years, but Rizzo can be that steadying influence at the center of it all.

But that's something that remains to be seen. For now, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the exploits of Rizz-OH!

@DEvanAltman

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  • Great Article! I agree with everything you said. The development and emergence of Rizzo has been amazing. I can envision him winning batting title and gold gloves for the next 10 years with the Cubs. Fun times are ahead of us!

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    Thanks, things are starting to fall into place.

  • remember when Rizzo was just a 270 guy who would hit 25-30 HR a year... I think we can bump that up... if he can take another step forward while moving into his prime we may well have a much larger window then we probably thought with him

  • To see the merits of this long rebuild finally begin to show is beyond words. So pumped for the very-near future!

  • This may have been said before but the comp on Rizzo, for me, is a left-handed Paul Konerko. Quite dude, goes about his business, team leader, guy can mash and play solid D, traded twice during his younger years before sticking with the Sox. While Konerko probably won't get into the Hall of Fame, he is right on the cusp, and we would be very lucky to watch Rizzo do all the same things Konerko has done. Very excited for the next 10-12 years of his career as a Cub.

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    In reply to Trylo23:

    That's an excellent comparison, and perhaps more apt than the one I gave. Either way, I'd be ecstatic to see Rizzo come anywhere near Paulie's production.

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    Although I am big on Rizzo and believe he is heading towards a great career, I would like to see a little more consistency in his BA. I know he is young and only has 1 full season under his belt but if you look at his numbers over the 4 years he has been in the majors he seems to follow a good season with a poor season (of course, never a bad season in the power numbers).

    The only reason I bring this up is due to the fact that the Cubs signed him to a sweet deal, in terms of the Cubs getting the upper hand, and I can't help but think that with the overload of prospects at certain positions, that if Rizzo is inconsistent, the Cubs might shop him and move one of the top prospects over to first.

    I know this is probably far fetched but we are talking about the Cubs.

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