Throughout Anthony Rizzo’s short career, it seems as though Cubs president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, and general manager Jed Hoyer have always believed that Rizzo will be a primetime player. Rizzo was originally drafted to the Boston Red Sox in 2007, and at the time Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were two of the main figures in the Red Sox front office. Hoyer eventually left Boston to be the San Diego Padres general manager in 2009. In the 2010 Rizzo was traded from the Red Sox to Hoyer’s Padres for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. When the Epstein/Hoyer tandem reunited in Chicago in late 2011, trading for Anthony Rizzo was one of the first moves the new front office accomplished.
Rizzo has always been seen as a top prospect in Epstein and Hoyer’s eyes, and now they are hoping their investment pays off. After excelling in the minor leagues, Rizzo played his first full season in the majors last season. Cubs fans know that Rizzo’s 2013 campaign was far from successful. Thought to be a major part of the rebuilding process, Rizzo hit .233 with 127 strikeouts, while hitting .191 with runners in scoring position last year.
If the Cubs have any chance at competing for a playoff spot anytime soon, Rizzo’s .233 average is not going to cut it. Recognizing this, many Cubs fans have been keeping a close eye on Rizzo at the start of this season. After signing a seven year 41 million dollar extension with the Cubs during last season, the Cubs are waiting for him to prove his worth. Not many people expect the Cubs to make the playoffs this year, but Cub fans would at least like to see progress.
Through twelve games the Cubs sit 4-8, but there have been several bright spots that Cub fans should be excited about. One of the main ones would be the improved play of Anthony Rizzo. Keep in mind that the Cubs have only played 12 games and have 150 left, having said that though, no one can deny that Rizzo is playing at a high level. He is hitting .319 with a .389 on base percentage, and it is these numbers that Epstein and Hoyer have envisioned Rizzo putting up for the rest of his career. He also .462 on base percentage with runners in scoring position, and has not hit into a double play.
Over the course of the grueling 162 game regular season, batting slumps are going to occur, so it will be interesting to see how Rizzo handles these and how long it takes for him to climb his way out of them, something he couldn’t do last year. Even though the Cubs season has only just begun, Rizzo has arguably swung the bat better this year than at any point last year. Expecting Rizzo to perform this well the rest of the season might be a little unrealistic primarily because he is still learning what it takes to play at the major league level. However, asking Rizzo to hit .280 with around 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s this season might be more reasonable.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were brought to Chicago to help bring home the Cubs first World Series crown since 1908. Once coming to Chicago, Epstein and Hoyer immediately brought Anthony Rizzo to the north side envisioning him to be the first baseman of the future. Despite his struggles last season, Rizzo has seemed to turn it around this year (at least so far). Although the Cubs are not seen as a threat in the National League this year, Epstein and Co. would like to see progress in their master plan of rebuilding. Despite his slow start in the pros, if Rizzo continues to progress, Cubs fans could be talking about him for a very VERY long time.