The Rundown: Anthony Rizzo 2020 Report Card, Sox Interested in LaRussa, Dodgers Pummel Braves, Astros Stay Alive
The Cubs are going to start their exit interviews and player evaluations soon, if they haven’t already. While we wait for the postseason to end and for teams to start looking forward to 2021, I thought I’d do a player grade each day to compensate for the dearth of Cubs news. Today I’ll look at Anthony Rizzo.
Anthony Rizzo fell to his knees and STILL hit the home run 💪 pic.twitter.com/HzmZ37at21
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 22, 2018
Rizzo tied Kyle Schwarber for second on the club in home runs with 11 after starting the season in strong fashion, finishing the first week of 2020 with three taters, five RBI, and a 1.216 OPS. The rest of the year was kind of a mixed bag for the first baseman, however.
Though there were numerous times he looked like he may have been breaking out, Rizzo never really turned the corner to become the offensive catalyst he has been known to be. His best game of the season was August 29, when he hit two home runs while leading the Cubs to a 3-0 win over the Reds in the first game of a doubleheader.
By the time the season ended, Rizzo’s OPS had dropped to .755 while his SLG bottomed out at .414, well off his career marks of .857 and .485, respectively. Because the Cubs are a streaky team, it has been the first baseman who has historically helped lead the offensive out of prolonged slumps, but that wasn’t the case in 2020. Statistically speaking, Rizzo had his worst season since 2013, his first full season in the bigs.
There is a silver lining, however. The 31-year-old managed to stay healthy, playing in 58 of the team’s 60 games while avoiding back problems that have plagued him in seasons past. His only flareup this year came during summer camp. Rizzo is almost certain to remain with the Cubs in 2021 with a $16.5 million club option, though he could be traded at next season’s deadline if the front office doesn’t feel an extension is in the best interests of the organization.
- Final Stat Line: .222/.342/.414, 11 HR, 103 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR
- Final Grade: C-
Cubs News & Notes
- The 1984 Cubs were the only team to ever hit five longballs in a League Championship Series game, doing so way back in Game 1 of their NLCS against the Padres. The Dodgers matched that feat last night.
- Armed with a curveball that is a true out pitch, Kyle Hendricks, along with Yu Darvish, will anchor Chicago’s starting rotation next season.
- Thanks to strategy coach Mike Borzello, Willson Contreras converted 51.2% of non-swinging pitches into strikes. That was good for 10th overall among all MLB catchers and represented a significant improvement over his 46.5% rate in 2019. Manager David Ross credited Contreras for working on his defense during the 3 1/2 month shutdown.
- The Cubs’ core isn’t what it used to be, isn’t what the team needed it to be in 2020, and might not exist in its current form beyond the coming offseason.
- If Rizzo is non-tendered or traded, the Cubs would probably have to make another move to find a starting first baseman.
- Jason Heyward and Darvish are finalists for the 2020 Players’ Choice Awards.
Where do I send my check?
There’s someone with a megaphone outside the ballpark heckling the Astros.
“You are all cheaters. Shame on you.”
Individually shaming all the 2017 Astros, one by one. Wow.
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) October 15, 2020
The Astros stayed alive last night with a nerve-wracking 4-3 win over the Rays. A redemption game by José Altuve, paired with a strong outing by starter Zack Greinke and a little old school managing by Dusty Baker prevented a sweep by Tampa Bay. Altuve homered and laced an RBI double. Houston faces another elimination contest tonight.
The Dodgers blasted the Braves 15-3 in Game 3 of the NLCS after and score a record-breaking 11 runs in the first inning. Corey Seager, Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, and Joc Pederson each had multi-hit games. Los Angeles just feasted on inexperienced Atlanta starter Kyle Wright and will look to even the series at two games apiece with Clayton Kershaw taking the bump against Bryse Wilson tonight.
How About That!
Tony LaRussa may be at the top of Jerry Reinsdorf’s list of potential candidates to replace Rick Renteria. The Angels have given the White Sox permission to speak to the 76-year-old LaRussa about their open managerial position.
Friction between Renteria and the White Sox front office ultimately led to his dismissal.
Ex-Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he may have interest in the Chicago opening, too.
MLB announced the finalists for the 2020 Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday. The award is given to the most outstanding offensive player in each league every year.
Senator Ben Basse of Nebraska called the Astros “miserable cheaters” during the hearings for Supreme Court Associate Judge nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo is finally a free man after serving out the final four seasons of his seven-year, $72.5 million contract in minor league purgatory. He’s had just 317 career plate appearances with two home runs and seven RBI since Boston signed him in August, 2014, none since 2016.
The Mets are set to become the Dodgers of the East Coast under new owner Steve Cohen.
Eager fans are enjoying their first live baseball experiences of 2020. The city of Arlington is allowing 10,500 fans to attend each game of the NLCS.
If only we were talking about Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Schwarber, Contreras, and Rizzo instead.
There's something fitting about the #Astros winning this game on the night Springer, Altuve, Correa, Bregman and Gurriel played their 54th postseason game together.
That's the most any 5 teammates have played together, passing two Yankees Jeter/Bernie groups h/t @EliasSports
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 15, 2020
They Said It
- “[Contreras] has really grown up a lot. ‘I think people forget he started catching [after being a minor league third baseman]. Rossy pretty much caught me his whole life, so he’s been back there a long time. Willson converted to a position he’d never played, and then he skyrocketed to the big leagues. You expect him to catch World Series games, catch games in a postseason chase. It’s hard to do.” – Jon Lester
- “Who knows where the game is going to go, where this country’s going to go, where life’s going to go? Baseball next year seems so far away right now. The winter meetings are going to come and go, the GM meetings, the World Series, all these significant dates. I know for a fact Mr. Ricketts wants to put a winning team on this field.” – Anthony Rizzo
Thursday Walk-Up Song
How the West Was Won and Where it Got Us by R.E.M. – Apropos of nothing, I cannot wait for this election to be over.