I’m guessing by know that anyone reading this already has a pretty firm grasp on the idea that Anthony Rizzo is better than your average baseballer. Just the same, I’d like you to go ahead and brace yourself because you are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.
It’s common knowledge that hitters don’t fare as well against like-handed pitchers, so you’re typically going to see better numbers from lefty batters when they face righties. This is certainly true of MLB’ers in general, as lefties slash .257/.325/.407 against righties and .249/.315/.362 against their fellow southpaws.
If you saw the CSN Chicago broadcast on Tuesday night, you may already know where I’m going with this. Or maybe you discerned my heavily veiled narrative direction from my cryptic headline. Either way, my point here is that Anthony Rizzo is no normal lefty hitter.
So far in 2015, the Cubs first baseman is slashing a remarkable .316/.438/.571. But looking at the overall picture only gives us part of the picture. To see the true measure of Rizzo’s burgeoning superstardom, we need to get into the splits, Van Dam-style.
As I mentioned above, the expectation for a lefty hitter is that he’ll do a little better against right-handed pitching. Rizzo has indeed hit righties well, compiling a line of .290/.403/.552, which is really outstanding. I mean, wait, that’s lower than his overall stats, which means…his numbers against lefties are better? Shut the front door.
I’m always a bit wary of throwing out video-game numbers and using them as some kind of basis for legitimate analysis, but now that we’re into June I think I can proceed with impunity. While I grant that the sample size is still relatively small, Rizzo is absolutely crushing left-handed pitching. I mean, I had to double-check these numbers before committing them to digital paper.
So far in 2015, Rizzo has a triple slash of .438/.581/.656 against like-handed pitchers. I just looked again to confirm and those numbers are indeed correct. Yes, that’s a 1.238 OPS against guys who are supposed to be able to get him out more easily.
Only Josh Donaldson (.462/1.360) can boast better batting average and slugging numbers against lefties, but he’s a right-handed hitter so it’s not quite as cool. Besides, what I’m really looking at here is OBP, an area in which Rizzo has really excelled this season.
Rizzo’s otherworldly .581 on-base percentage vs. lefties is the highest in the majors, and it’s not even close. Donaldson — no surprise there — is second, but his .488 mark is nearly 100 points back. And prior to a 5th inning ground-out against the Marlins’ Brad Hand, a lefty, Rizzo had reached 6 of every 10 trips to the plate.
For the sake of comparison, the highest OBP vs. right-handed pitching belongs to Jason Kipnis, who’s reaching at a .478 clip. Rizzo is all the way down at 18th though, the slacker. But again, no one else in the league reaches base more than 48.8% of the time against any pitching. Well, no one but Rizzo.
I have to admit, when I saw the stat flash up on the screen last night I didn’t believe it. And then when I went to Fangraphs and started searching splits, I fully expected to see that something had been amiss with the information Len and JD were sharing with us. But it’s all true. Anthony Rizzo really is that good.
Absent anything incredibly witty to say at this point, I’ll simply regurgitate the best part of this whole post: Rizzo has a triple slash of .438/.581/.656 against lefties. Just chew on that for a while and let its transcendent awesomeness sustain you.