Results tagged ‘ Anthony Rizzo ’

Cubs stars Castro and Rizzo off to fast starts

Rizzo_Starlin

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Most of the Cubs offseason was dedicated to speculation about whether young stars Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo could bounce back from disappointing 2013 campaigns. Through the first two weeks of the season, things are looking good, as both have gotten off to fast starts. While the team’s record might not be indicative of their strong play, the Cubs’ two most important offensive names have played to the level that earned them each seven-year extensions before their 24th birthdays.

Rizzo, who has batted in the heart of the order this season, is hitting .319/.389/.489 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with a pair of home runs, two doubles and eight RBI in 54 plate appearances. Power wasn’t an issue last year, as he was fifth in the National League in extra-base hits, but his abysmal .191 batting average with runners in scoring position limited a lot of the Cubs run-scoring opportunities. This season—in, admittedly, a very small sample—he’s hitting .400 in with runners in scoring position and giving life to the offense.

“I think you try to eliminate the stress that comes in that particular situation,” said Cubs manager Rick Renteria. “The reality is the pitcher’s the one on the ropes at that time. It’s tough to hit in the big leagues. It’s not the easiest thing to do. You’ve got a guy out there on the hill who’s trying to get you out and has a mix of pitches. Then you have yourself, trying to stay within yourself, trying to do what you can do and allow the situation to dictate the type of approach you should be taking. It’s just through trial and error and experience and continuing to talk about it [that we get better].”

Castro, who is two full seasons removed from a 2011 campaign in which he led the NL in hits, looks to be regaining his old form. The 24-year-old’s .300/.327/.460 line is well above where he finished in 2013 (.245/.284/.347), and he looks to be more comfortable at the plate. The shortstop has been batting mainly second or sixth so far and seems to be comfortable in either role.

“When you talk to all the guys, they’re not worried so much about where they’re hitting in the lineup,” Renteria said. “He’s comfortable wherever we put him. The player who ends up putting himself in the position where he believes he should only be hitting in a particular spot, puts himself in trouble.”

 

 

Now Playing: Cubscast Mesa, The Definition of Success

After nearly two months of preparation, Cubs spring camp is coming to a close, and the team is getting ready to head north to Pittsburgh for the season opener.

In the final installation of our Cubscast Mesa video series, we asked Cubs players to state their definition of success for 2014. Though most pundits don’t expect much from the team, the players are definitely setting their sights high.

Check out the other videos from our Spring Training series:

Cubscast Mesa: Positive Energy in Cubs Camp
Cubscast Mesa: Inside Cubs Park
Cubscast Mesa with Rick Renteria and the 2014 coaching staff
Cubscast Mesa with the top prospects
Cubscast Mesa: Meet the new guys
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part One
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part Two
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part Three
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part Four
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part Five

1000 Words: Rizzo is ready for action

Spring Training Chicago Cubs

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Cubs photographer Stephen Green captures another great shot of Cubs Park, as first baseman Anthony Rizzo gets ready for the start of a Spring Training game. In four Cactus League games so far, Rizzo is hitting .500, with two doubles, an RBI and a walk in 10 at-bats.

Now Playing: Cubscast Mesa, Inside Cubs Park

Building a model organization is about much more than just acquiring the right players. Those players also need world class facilities in which to practice and train. Following the opening last year of their new training facility in the Dominican Republic, the Cubs took another step in the right direction this spring when they unveiled their new Cubs Park complex in Mesa, Ariz.

The facility includes Cubs Park—which seats 15,000 people—a two-story player development facility and a rebuilt Riverview Park. It all sits on a 146-acre site, making it the largest facility in the Cactus League.

“There are two things that all our baseball operations people have been saying since we walked in for the first time,” said baseball president Theo Epstein at the park’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “One is no more excuses. This place is as good as it gets. And the second is related to that. If we can’t get better here, we can’t get better anywhere. We will work extremely hard to put that World Series flag on top of this complex to finish it off.”

If you didn’t get a chance to head out to Mesa, this spring, we give you an inside look at the Cubs spectacular new Spring Training facility, inside and out.

We’ll be posting videos and stories from Cubs Park throughout the spring, so watch the blog and our Twitter account, @cubsvineline.

Check out the other videos from our Spring Training series:

Cubscast Mesa with Rick Renteria and the 2014 coaching staff
Cubscast Mesa with the top prospects
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part One
Cubscast Mesa: Meet the new guys
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part Two
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part Three

1000 Words: Justin Ruggiano says hello

Ruggiano

(Image by Stephen Green)

Offseason acquisition Justin Ruggiano hit his first home run of the spring in the third inning on Tuesday. The two-run shot scored Anthony Rizzo (center) and gave the Cubs the lead in a 6-4 win over Oakland.

Now Playing: Cubscast Mesa, The Lighter Side of the Cubs, Part One

Major league baseball players have a tendency to make things look easy. That’s because they’re the best at what they do. But getting to the pinnacle of the sport takes countless hours of practice and hard work—and even the best of the best make mistakes sometimes.

As part of our Spring Training video series, Vine Line talked with Anthony Rizzo, Jason Hammel and several others to find out about some of the moments they aren’t overly proud of. Check back later this week for more in our Lighter Side video series.

We’ll be posting videos and stories from Cubs Park all week long, so watch the blog and our Twitter account, @cubsvineline.

Check out the other videos from our Spring Training series:

Cubscast Mesa with Rick Renteria and the 2014 coaching staff
Cubscast Mesa with the top prospects

Rizzo states his case for NL Gold Glove

RIZZO-A-050513-SG-01

(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)

Rizzo named Cubs Nominee for Clemente Award

Cubs vs Rangers

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Major League Baseball and Chevrolet today announced Anthony Rizzo has been named the Chicago Cubs’ 2013 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award. MLB will honor Clemente’s legacy on Tuesday, September 17, with the 12th annual Roberto Clemente Day. Rizzo is one of the 30 club finalists for the annual award, which recognizes a player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

“In his two seasons with the team, Anthony has made a tremendous, selfless impact in the community and with his teammates,” said Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer. “We urge all baseball fans to recognize him as the 2013 national Roberto Clemente Award recipient.”

Beginning Tuesday, fans are encouraged to help select the national award recipient by visiting ChevyBaseball.com to vote for one of the 30 nominees. Voting ends Sunday, Oct. 6, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2013 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award will be announced.

Last year, during his first season with the Cubs, Rizzo started the nonprofit Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation to raise money for cancer research and provide support to children and families battling the disease. As a cancer survivor, Rizzo understands the impact cancer has on the entire family. Through fundraising for research and providing support for pediatric cancer patients and their families, the foundation aims to give every family a fighting chance against the disease.

Since its inception, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation has hosted two successful inaugural events. The Walk-Off For Cancer was held in Rizzo’s Florida hometown in December 2012, and the Cook-Off For Cancer took place in Chicago with the support of teammates and the front office in August 2013. Together, these events have raised more than $250,000 for cancer research.

In addition to these fundraising efforts, Rizzo makes monthly visits to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he spends much of his time talking with the patients and their families, signing autographs, taking photos and handing out Cubs goodies. Rizzo will be recognized for his nomination before the team’s Sept. 23 home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and his foundation will be presented a $7,500 grant.

1000 Words: Happy anniversary, Anthony Rizzo

RIZZO-A-062612-SG-14

(Photo by Stephen Green)

One year ago today, first baseman Anthony Rizzo made his Cubs debut in a 5-3 victory against the New York Mets at Wrigley Field. The then-22-year-old got off to an auspicious start, going 2-for-4 with a double and the go-ahead RBI. In 161 games for the Cubs, Rizzo has hit .270/.341/.466 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 27 home runs and 92 RBI. In May, the team locked up the cornerstone player with a seven-year, $41 million contract that includes two option years.

1000 Words: Rizzo to the rescue

RizzoAngels

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty)

It was a lot of travel for a brief, two-game series, but Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo made the westward journey to Anaheim worthwhile Wednesday night. After Angels slugger Mark Trumbo tied the game with a solo homer (his first of two) in the eighth inning, Rizzo came through with two outs in the 10th, driving a bases-clearing, three-run double down the right-field line to boost the Cubs to an 8-6 victory over the Angels.

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