NL Central Notes: Rizzo Rising


Playing on such a stacked team might be hurting Anthony Rizzo’s MVP case. Take a look at this and other interesting items from around the NL Central.

What’s a guy have to do around here to get some respect? That might be the question Anthony Rizzo asks himself every morning when he looks in the mirror. It seems every time the topic of the best hitter in the National League comes up, Rizzo’s name is never the first two or three mentioned. Sure, Bryce Harper is phenomenal, but he’s had his struggles this season. Paul Goldschmidt, you ask? Well, he’s fantastic as well, but Rizzo has been better… and it’s not really debatable.

Rizzo ranks fifth in the NL in Position Player WAR at 3.2, Goldschmidt is seventh and Harper didn’t crack the top 10. WAR alone will not win an argument, so we’ll dive into the numbers a bit more. Rizzo has always exhibited above average plate discipline, but this year he’s taken that to a new level. His strikeout rate sits at 13.2 percent, down from his career mark of 17.5 percent. Rizzo is also taking walks at a career rate this season as well. His walk rate is an impressive 14 percent through 75 games.

To truly get a grasp on how dominant Rizzo has been thus far, let’s take a look at a few of his 2016 stats and see where they rank in the National League:

                                 2016                                 NL Rank

OBP                         .407                                        3

ISO                          .292                                         2

SLG%                       .567                                         7

wRC+                     .167                                          2

K %                          13.2%                                       12

BB %                       14%                                           6

OPS                         .983                                         3

ADJ OPS+              161                                           2

The point here is that we could go on for quite some time showing how dominant of a hitter Rizzo has been just by virtue of the numbers. He plays on what could end up being a historically great team, and most of the time he’s overlooked. Whether it’s because he’s the elder statesman (26 years old) of the Cubs’ young guns barrage, or maybe it’s his position – he only plays one (1B), and that’s rare for this year’s version of the Cubs.

That question will be addressed in due time. Most likely it’s just the embarrassingly large amount of talent this club has that’s keeping Rizzo from being one of the first names mentioned in the MVP race.

Either way he’s found his groove and the type of production he’s put forth this year might be enough to bring a pennant to Wrigleyville.

Around the NL Central:

More from Call to the Pen

  • While we’re on the topic of the Cubs, we might as well touch a little on Kris Bryant and his incredible season. Sure, it would be easy to look at his offensive numbers and extrapolate them over the duration of the season, but I want to look at something a bit more unique. Bryant has been the “quintessential” baseball player in 2016. What I mean by that is this: He’s played six positions this season and started at four of them. He’s played more than one position in 27 of his 75 games. That’s an absurd amount of responsibility to be placed on a young superstar. Something we’ve just not seen in the modern era. What’s more, he’s provided All-Star level offensive production with utility man flexibility. Simply amazing.
  • The Reds have mercifully pulled the plug on the JJ Hoover plan. Hoover was optioned to Triple-A Louisville a few hours after his latest grease fire. Keyvius Sampson was promoted to take his place. The Reds bullpen is by far the worst in the league, allowing 61 home runs and a 6.08 ERA this year. Good luck Key.
  • Ryan Braun is second among National League outfielders in OPS at .938. Carlos Gonzalez is first at .959.

Next: Top 50 Prospects in Baseball (50-41)