Results tagged ‘ Anthony Rizzo ’
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:
(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.
(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)
(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.
(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.
(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.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs and Anthony Rizzo officially came to terms on a seven-year deal worth an estimated $41 million that includes club options for the 2020 and 2021 season and could total $73 million before it’s through. The contract covers the first baseman’s final two pre-arbitration seasons, his four arbitration-eligible years and at least his first season of free agency, with options to buy out years two and three.
The 23-year-old—who will be 30 when the original contract expires—has played just 124 games for the Cubs, accumulating a .283/.345/.485 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line with 24 homers, 25 doubles and 76 RBI. His home runs, hits (136) and OPS (.830) all rank second among NL first basemen since his call-up on June 26, 2012. His .995 fielding percentage is also second among first basemen.
Rizzo was originally selected by the Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2007 draft out of high school. He was limited to 21 minor league games in 2008 after being diagnosed with Limited Stage Classical Hodgkins Lymphoma in late April, but he returned a season later to lead all Red Sox minor leaguers with a .368 on-base percentage.
In December, 2010 he was traded to the Padres, along with four other players, for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. He tore up the Triple-A ranks and was the No. 1 prospect in the Padres farm system when he was acquired by the Cubs on January 6, 2012 as part of a four-player trade that included RHP Andrew Cashner.
Through 37 games this season, Rizzo is hitting .280/.352/.538 with nine homers and 28 driven in. Though he struggled early, his average has climbed quickly, as he was hitting just .173 on April 25.
The last few weeks have seen a dramatic increase in slugger Anthony Rizzo’s offensive statistics. Already the NL leader in extra-base hits with 19, including 10 doubles (tied for eighth in NL) and nine homers (tied for third), the first baseman’s batting average has soared from .173 on April 25 to .266 midway through Wednesday’s game. In his first at-bat against the Cardinals he doubled and added a single in his next plate appearance. The Cubs and their fans hope he continues on his recent run of success.
Above is a photo of him with a fan prior to Monday night’s contest with the Rangers.
Last month, the Cubs and Chicago Cubs Charities held their annual Bricks and Ivy Ball at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom. Now in its third year, the event has become one of the key fundraisers for Chicago Cubs Charities. It helps support numerous organizations and programs targeting youth sports access and improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk.
More than 840 guests helped raise $1.2 million at the Ball to benefit Chicago Cubs Charities, thanks to the generosity of Cubs owners, managers, players, front office associates and fans. As the program began, Chairman Tom Ricketts addressed the Cubs’ commitment to supporting Chicago’s children through community outreach and charitable programming.
“Our goal is to make life better for the youth and families of Chicago by doing our part to improve health, fitness and educational opportunities for those at risk,” Ricketts said. “Whether it’s a hospital visit, holiday toy drive, serving lunch at a USO or Thanksgiving dinner to homeless teens, our team is there donating their time and resources.”
During the evening, Chicago Cubs Charities introduced a video featuring some All-Star youth who have benefited from grants, including Cubs Care grants, a McCormick Foundation Fund. The video also featured Cubs players Darwin Barney, David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija.
If you didn’t get a chance to attend the Bricks and Ivy Ball, you can check out the video here. Special thanks to the charities, Cubs players and Len Kasper for helping make this possible.
Please don’t judge me, but …
I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan. Look, there wasn’t much I could do about it. I moved a lot when I was younger and lived in Atlanta in the early ’80s. With each subsequent move, I was able to follow the Braves because of TBS.
Here’s what I remember about the Braves from my younger days—1981 was a miserable, strike-shortened year; 1982 was a blast until the postseason (a phenomenon I didn’t realize would repeat itself throughout my adulthood); 1983 was solid; and then depression set in.
The Braves were 80-82 in 1984, and that was by far the best it would get until the franchise began its unprecedented run of regular-season success in 1991. The late ’ 80s saw a wretched slide that reached its nadir in 1988, when the team went 54-106.
So why am I recounting this sad chapter from my childhood? I see a lot of similarities between what the Braves were doing in the late ’80s/early ’90s and what the Cubs are doing now.
In 1990, the Braves went 65-97, good for last place in the NL West, 26 games behind the Reds. In 1991, they shocked the baseball world by winning 94 games and getting all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. Since then, they’ve been one of the most stable and consistently excellent teams in pro sports.
But the Braves’ worst-to-first run didn’t come out of the blue. In fact, the team probably wasn’t as bad as its record in 1990. If you look back at the roster, it included names like Steve Avery, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Mike Stanton, Ron Gant and David Justice. All those players had some important things in common—they were young, untested, and between the ages of 20 and 25.
When we talked to Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein for our January issue, something he said resonated with me.
“There are two ways to really improve your team in a hurry from one year to the next,” Epstein said. “One is sign impact players or bring in impact players from outside the organization. The other is to have a wave of young talent that’s approaching their prime years at the same time.”
The Cubs might not shock the world this year, but they’re building that wave of talent—players who can grow together, win together, lose together, and ultimately figure things out together as they move into their prime years.
One of these waves is at the major league level now in Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson. Epstein calls these players the “Cubs core.” And the organization is developing another strong group in the low minor leagues with high-ceiling players like Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Pierce Johnson and Dillon Maples.
In the May issue of Vine Line, we talk to the Cubs core about what it means to them to play in Chicago and how they plan to turn potential into major league success. One thing is clear—no matter what the record said at the end of 2012 or what it says right now—these guys do not buy into the presumption that the Cubs are years away from winning.
We also check in on the new minor league affiliate that is helping develop the next wave of top talent. After eight years with the Peoria Chiefs, the Cubs switched their Midwest League affiliate to Kane County, located about 40 miles from Wrigley Field’s doorstep. There are huge benefits to having a farm team nearby, and the Cougars and Cubs both hope to take advantage of that in 2013 and beyond.
Finally, we look at the other side of the Cubs equation—the fan base. This season, the team has developed an advertising and marketing campaign based on the fierce dedication and undying passion of the best fans in the game. We talk to the stars of the new ads and the Cubs front office to find out how it all came together.
Here’s to a brighter future.
You can never have too much pitching.
If you need further proof of that old baseball axiom, let’s look at the 2012 Cubs. They started the season with a fairly solid rotation behind a pitching-out-of-his-gourd Ryan Dempster, reliever-turned-starter Jeff Samardzija, a rejuvenated Paul Maholm and young veteran ﬁreballer Matt Garza. At the back end, there were two options: newly acquired lefty Travis Wood and underachieving former top draft pick Chris Volstad.
Things looked pretty good on paper. But, as we all know, that didn’t last long.
The offense didn’t score. Injuries took their toll. The trade deadline came and went. And, well, the rest is lamentable Cubs history.
It turned out the team didn’t have much major league-ready talent behind those guys—in the starting rotation or in the bullpen—and baseball president Theo Epstein’s preseason prediction, “The numbers show you’re going to need your ninth starter through the course of the year,” came true.
As a result, the front ofﬁce was laser focused on one thing throughout the hot stove season: acquiring more serviceable big league pitching to ensure there isn’t a repeat performance of last season.
“I think that probably the biggest weakness when we got here was depth in pitching, especially at the upper levels,” General Manager Jed Hoyer said. “Ideally, you want to home-grow all of your pitching. We don’t have that luxury right now, so we actively sought out a lot of starting pitching. We brought in four guys we see as starters: [Edwin] Jackson, [Scott] Feldman, [Scott] Baker and [Carlos] Villanueva.”
The Cubs might not have a traditional “ace” coming into the season, but they have three guys with the ability to ﬁll that role in Samardzija, Garza and Jackson. If strike-throwing machine Baker can fully recover from last April’s Tommy John surgery, he should be a useful veteran addition to the staff. Feldman and Villanueva have both proven they can start and relieve in the big leagues, giving manager Dale Sveum plenty of flexibility. And Travis Wood, the only lefty in the starting mix, has tremendous athleticism and mixes in six different pitches.
The team also solidiﬁed the bullpen by re-signing veteran Shawn Camp and bringing in Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa. Even Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon, who is required to stay on the 25-man major league roster all season or be offered back to the Indians, looked impressive in his spring appearances.
The April issue of Vine Line takes a look at the Cubs pitching staff from top to bottom to give you an idea of what each pitcher throws, how they attack hitters and what to expect this season.
We also sat down with Hoyer to get a sense of where the organization stands as he enters his second season in the driver’s seat. The team certainly still has work to do, but there are many reasons to feel optimistic about the future.
“We’re trying to build something that every year [fans] know is a playoff-quality team,” Hoyer said. “It doesn’t happen overnight, and we’ve been really honest about that. But I do think fans deserve to start seeing the fruits of our labor, and I think you’re going to start to see that coming together now.”
Still, winning organizations are not built solely by shrewd front ofﬁce maneuvers. They require buy-in from coaches, players and personnel at every level. While we were in Mesa, Ariz., with the team this spring, we got a ﬁrsthand look at how the Cubs’ message is being passed along from veteran players, like David DeJesus and Alfonso Soriano, to the younger generation, like Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson. It’s a time-honored baseball tradition—each spring, older players take the young studs under their wings to teach them the ins and outs of the major league game.
Baseball is back. Let’s see where this ride takes us.