Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo posted a lower batting average in 2017 but the same power. Why is he a value pick in 2018?
The Chicago Cubs offense wasn’t as powerful as they were in their 2016 World Series season. Yet, Only two hitters finished with batting averages over .290. First baseman Anthony Rizzo hit the ball hard but didn’t make as much contact. As a result, he’s fallen in many 2018 rankings. He is a great value pick in the second round.
Rizzo entered the 2017 season coming off a 32 HR/109 RBI/.292 All-Star season. He was highly sought after in ESPN leagues as an early-second-round pick and the second first baseman off the board.
By the end of the year, Rizzo was the sixth-best first baseman and 26th overall hitter. What changed?
More from Fantasy Baseball
Rizzo saw a two-percent increase in his ground ball rate while his fly ball rate dropped the same amount. He made three percent more soft contact as well. He ended the season on a down note, hitting .236 with just one home run and 12 RBI and 21 hits in 89 at-bats.
There were some good things to take away from Rizzo’s 2017 season. He became even more patient at the plate, posting a 90:91 K:BB ratio, the first time he had more walks than strikeouts in his career.
His strikeout and walk rates had a three-percent swing between the last two seasons. Rizzo had a 7.6 swinging strike rate, lowest of his career. He also had an 83.4 contact rate, the highest of his career. Unfortunately, some of that contact put the ball on the ground instead of in the air but the point is, he was seeing the ball well.
The Cubs will have most of their starting lineup back for next season. With Kris Bryant dominating the league, Willson Contreras on the rise, Kyle Schwarber still hitting for power and the rest of the infield contributing, Rizzo should have no problem getting his pitches and driving in runs.
Rizzo is still performing at a high rate. The only thing pushing him down the rankings is that other players are playing better. Most rankings have Rizzo in the late teens and early 20s among all players. That would make him, possibly, a third-round pick.
If you can draft Rizzo in the third round after you get Mike Trout and Chris Sale with your first two picks, you are destined for greatness. Then again, the same people probably thought that last season before everyone and their mothers went on the DL.
Rizzo is still in the top three among first basemen. I rank Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto ahead of him. Some other sites have Freddie Freeman ahead of Rizzo as well. That is a good debate to be had later. Rizzo is as consistent as they come. Don’t worry about the .273 average. He’ll be back up to .285 without a problem.