Service Time Is The Thing

You may have noticed by the overwhelming amount of glee coming from the North Side of Chicago (four people in the area actually smiled) that the Cubs have finally called up their franchise savior Anthony Rizzo to play first base for the big league team.

Rizzo, acquired this off season in a trade for flame thrower Andrew Cashner, represents the first major asset acquired by the team’s new brain trust headed up by President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer. The The 6’3″, 220 pound, 22 year old played in his first game for the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night, going 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.

It was anything but a disappointing debut for a player whose Triple A slash line would more accurately be called a chop line due to the violence that these numbers evoke:

  • .342 AVG/.405 OBP/.696 SLG
  • .354 ISO/.459 wOBA/175 wRC+

If you need more proof that Rizzo had mastered Triple A pitching, consider that over 284 plate appearances, the first baseman hit 23 home runs. That’s a home run every twelve times he came up to the plate. Looking at such gaudy numbers, you can be forgiven for wondering why the Cubs didn’t call him up and push Bryan LaHair to a corner outfield spot even sooner. Why did they wait until the late June to bring a player to the Major Leagues who seemed to have developed as far as he was able at the level below.

No matter what Epstein or Hoyer try to tell you about Rizzo’s readiness, the answer is rather simple. As Ben Nicholson-Smith shows us at MLB Trade Rumors, it was about service time.

He picked up 68 days of service time under Cubs GM Jed Hoyer on last year’s Padres team, so he’s on track to have 168 days of service following the 2012 season. Players need 172 days of service time for a full year, so Rizzo’s expected to fall just short. This means he’ll be under Cubs control through 2018 as opposed to 2017 and justifies the timing of the promotion.

While, the Cubs may not be able to avoid a Super Two status down the road, they’ll happily take consolation in that extra year of control combined with satiating the hunger of a devoted fan base demanding his call up and the top prospect himself looking to move forward.

Apropos of nothing, this is something that only 22 year old first basemen are able to do: