Chicago Cubs: What’s going on with Anthony Rizzo?

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs are once again in prime position to make the postseason, despite the uneven play of Anthony Rizzo. Here’s why the slugging first-baseman has been struggling this season.

Anthony Rizzo is a beloved member of the Chicago Cubs. He’s been an All-Star multiple seasons, winning a Gold Glove award in 2016. Without Rizzo, there’s no way the Cubs win the 2016 World Series.

Rizzo has been everything Cubs fans have hoped to see since joining the organization back in 2012. However, in baseball, all good things eventually come to an end. Rizzo’s play, unfortunately, might be rapidly declining right before our very eyes.

More from Da Windy City

Heading out of the All-Star break, Rizzo unfortunately looks like a shell of his former self. He’s batting just .246 with 12 home runs in 83 games played. Those stats are embarrassing, especially considering Rizzo is supposed to be a main building block on the Cubs.

Turning 29 years old this August, Rizzo is supposed to be the prime of his career now. The time where a good player finally puts everything together and becomes a great one.

So why hasn’t Rizzo done exactly that? Simply put: Rizzo is failing to adjust to the evolution of the game of baseball.

A few seasons ago, Rizzo was the type of hitter who’d regularly smack opposite field line-drives for hits. Back in 2016, that was when Rizzo was at his best. He batted .292, largely because he didn’t care about hitting home runs.

Now, because infielders are shifting drastically towards the first-base side every time Rizzo bats, it’s affected him mentally. Rather than stick with what’s worked well in prior seasons, Rizzo does the opposite. He’s pulling almost every ball he puts in play towards the first-base side. Thus resulting in fewer hits.

Left-handed pull-hitters like Rizzo are swinging for the fences to compensate for the shift opposing defenses make. Like many sluggers, Rizzo feels that hitting against the shift takes away what they do best: crush home runs.

Rizzo would rather hit a home run than a single now. Unfortunately, Rizzo isn’t hitting enough home runs to compensate for his low batting average.

Opposing teams are daring batters like Rizzo to hit against the shift. Sadly, that’s hard enough for any hitter to do consistently.

Rizzo’s power has dipped considerably from seasons’ past because he’s simply over-thinking during his at-bats. When you’re struggling to begin with and feel that hitting home runs will cure everything, the exact opposite happens.

Related Story: Can Schwarber carry momentum into October?

A player who tries too hard to make things happen often over-presses, resulting in worse results. That’s been Rizzo’s kryptonite all season long.

If Rizzo can simply get back to his old hitting ways from prior seasons, his average and power numbers will go up dramatically in the second half of this season.