Rizzo states his case for NL Gold Glove

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

As the 2013 season comes to a close, it’s safe to say slugger Anthony Rizzo was probably hoping for a better offensive campaign. His 22 homers and 39 doubles were solid for a middle-of-the-order bat, but his .230 average was 55 points lower than his half-season average from 2012. But while he might not have produced what many were hoping for in the batter’s box, the 23-year-old made tremendous strides defensively—so much so that he should be one of the front-runners for the NL Gold Glove.

With just a series left to play, Rizzo is at or near the top of just about every meaningful defensive category measuring NL first basemen. Not only is his Ultimate Zone Rating (a defensive metric that uses play-by-play data to estimate a fielder’s defensive contributions) nearly two full points higher than the next-best first baseman, but his 15 defensive runs saved are top 10 of all players in the National League—and best for his position.

The first baseman was always viewed as a slick fielder, but the strides he has made—even from his rookie 2012 campaign—are impressive. Along with a jump of nearly a point in UZR, Rizzo’s Revised Zone Rating (the proportion of balls hit into a fielder’s zone that he successfully converts into an out) jumped from .809 to .867 this season, the highest mark among NL players at first. He even converted 42 plays from out of his standard defensive zone into outs, a solid increase from his extrapolated 2012 total of 29 at this point last season. And he had to handle 188 balls in his zone this year, the third-best in the NL.

Even looking at old-school defensive stats like errors and fielding percentage, Rizzo still is top three in both categories. Below is a full breakdown of how he has fared thus far, in comparison to some of the other NL first baseman.

RizzoDefense

(BIZ- Balls hit within player’s defensive zone, OOZ- Successful plays made when ball was hit out of player’s standard defensive zone—All stats according to fangraphs.com)

1 Comment

I think that the inadequacies in his hitting can easily be fixed; easier than if he were having problems with his fielding.

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