In part three of what already exceeded even the wildest of expectations, the curious eye of Getting Blanked looks at the projections for young studs from around the baseball world. Today, Anthony Rizzo.
Do you know how good Anthony Rizzo is? If you do, please let me in on your secrets. Anthony Rizzo looks good and his stat lines look good, too. He remains a mere first baseman. Lots of people can put up okay numbers at first. Can Anthony Rizzo ever become a first baseman of the Prince Fielder/Albert Pujols “larger than life wOBA” mould?
Rizzo finally made his Cubs début in June after the Cubs kept his service time in check, starring for the awful Cubs to the tune of a .349 wOBA with 15 home runs. Good numbers but his 116 wRC+ ranks him 15th among first basemen with 350 PAs, behind Brandon Belt and narrowly ahead of player like Freeman and Mark Teixeira.
So he’s good but not great? Is that fair to say? Keith Law likes Rizzo in 2013, ranking him ahead of the more established Freddie Freeman and the more hyped Eric Hosmer in his top 25 under 25 listicle. Do the projection systems agree?
The ZiPS projections believe Rizzo will perform like the second best player on the Cubs, ranking him alongside fellow 23-year old Starlin Castro in terms of WAR thanks to a significant boost in his offense.
ZiPS – .279/.349/.503, .362 wOBA, .311 BABIP, 32 2B, 2 3B, 31 HR, 7 SB, 4.0 WAR.
That is, uh, that is a damn fine season. As always, Rizzo’s dominance at the AAA level informs his projections in a most delightful way. If — IF — Anthony Rizzo can post a .362 wOBA in 2013, he would place himself squarely among the elite offensive first baseman in baseball. Posting a .360 wOBA with a .220 ISO puts Rizzo among Joey Votto, Jason Giambi and Carlos Delgado over the last decade.
That’s good. Pie in the sky but good none the less. ZiPS projects Rizzo’s walk rate at 8.7% – much lower than the lofty company who can consistently put up those big offensive figures. The list of players who, for one season, managed .360 wOBA with .220 ISO and a walk rate under 9% is less…decorated. Kinda concerning?
CAIRO agrees that Rizzo will bomb away in 2013, though not quite as explosively as the previous system.
CAIRO – .261/.334/.469, .348 wOBA, 35 2B, 1 3B, 24 HR, 7 SB
The trend continues. CAIRO remains skeptical of young players with stellar minor league records, demanding more big league success before lavishing crooked numbers on a young turk.
As for Bill James, king of the offensive jam…
Bill James – .283/.346/.517, .368 wOBA, .310 BABIP, 40 2B, 1 3B, 33 HR, 7 SB.
That’s the stuff right there. 40 doubles! Why not, really? Wrigley Field allows more than its share of doubles, it could totally happen!
As stated above, I have a hard time putting my finger on Anthony Rizzo. He is a very nice player with a much improved swing, one built for life in the big leagues. Whether he becomes an excellent first baseman or just a very good one obscures the obvious fact that his floor as a player is quite high. The Cubs are building something on the North Side of Chicago, something in which Anthony Rizzo figures prominently.