It didn’t take long for Anthony Rizzo to become a sensation on the North Side of Chicago. Shortly after the Chicago Cubs acquired the young first baseman, in exchange for Andrew Cashner, many were wondering when he might make his second big league debut, and first for the Cubs.
Those clamoring for Rizzo’s arrival finally got their wish at the end of June. And the results were very good. In 87 games with the Cubs in 2012, Rizzo finished with a line of .285/.342/.463/.805. He finished with a .349 wOBA, which is well above average, and a WAR around two. Both of those numbers could rise in 2013.
Rizzo was very good in 2013. He hit 15 home runs and drove in 48, the latter of which left him in third on the Cubs, despite playing in the minors for the first three months of the year. Not too shabby. But what does that mean for his expectations heading into the new season? It means potentially big things.
Extrapolated over a 162-game season, you’re probably looking at a similar batting average, on-base percentage, and all the jazz for Rizzo. He’s projected to hit around .280 and post a wOBA of .362, which is a jump up. With twice as many games next year, he could easily hit twice as many home runs, and even drive in twice as many runs. That’s all possible.
With that said, there are a couple of issues that Rizzo is going to have to work on during the new season. He’s going to have to strike out less. He struck out 62 times in those 87 games last year. He’s also going to have to improve off of lefty pitching. He hit just .208 off of them last year. His walk rate did increase as his time in the bigs did last season, which is delightful.
A quick look at what Rizzo brings to the table defensively also points to a big year for him at first. His UZR was just over five last year, which is just above average. Rizzo’s glove has always been one of his strong suits, so that number should see a jump into the elite levels this year.
Those who believe that Anthony Rizzo is a future superstar will absolutely get a glimpse of what he truly brings to the table with a full season in 2013. If those projections pan out, Rizzo will be in league with some of the top first basemen in the game. For a guy who is considered a building block of the future for the Chicago Cubs, 2013 has the potential to be one of many great ones, no matter how pitiful the rest of the team may appear this year.