Can Anthony Rizzo Maintain Scorching Pace?
Just a little over two months from his 30th birthday and in his eighth season as a Cub, Anthony Rizzo is on pace for his best campaign yet. Rizzo, a model of consistency since joining the club in 2012, could set new career highs in basically everything the way he’s going.
And I really do mean everything. If he were to continue at his current level of production, Rizzo would have new bests in the following: home runs, RBI, OBP, slugging, fWAR, wRC+, and wOBA. While he still sits behind Willson Contreras for the team lead in wRC+, Rizzo has been one of the engines of the team and has rebounded nicely from what was a slightly off 2018 by his standards.
With Rizzo set to eclipse career bests in so many areas, the question naturally arises: Is what he’s doing sustainable? Sometimes that answer can be a complicated, but in this case the evidence tends to point pretty squarely to “yes.”
To start, Rizzo’s peripheral numbers are definitively in line with the type of success he’s having. He is consistently making very good contact and his hard-hit rate currently sits at over 40%, which would represent a career high by a wide margin. Hitting the ball with authority never hurts.
His home run-to-fly ball ratio is also at a career high, but with hard contact numbers like that it’s not so easy to dismiss as some kind of fluke. Rizzo is also not alone in experiencing an elevated HR/FB ratio, as many others around the league have seen similar upticks due to factors ranging from juiced balls to ballpark lighting.
Another aspect in his favor is his batting averages on balls in play, which has not been particularly favorable. In fact, his current .268 BABIP would be the second worst of his big league career. Were it to rise closer his career average of .286, one could reasonably expect Rizzo would be on an even better pace, which cannot be a comforting thought for opposing pitchers.
And on top of all that, it’s pretty clear Rizzo is passing the eye test. The Budweiser that he hit right in the “D” can attest to that. Not nice, Anthony.
Uhh, yeah that’ll do.#TeamRizzo pic.twitter.com/naP99JBmNR
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 23, 2019
Rizzo is a three-time All-Star who hasn’t played in the Midsummer Classic since 2016, which is coincidentally the year the Cubs won the World Series. People forget that. He is doing everything he can to get back there this year, and there are no indications that he’s ready to slow down.