Anthony Rizzo already has a long-term contract, an All-Star selection on his resume, a charitable foundation and so many off-the-field marketing opportunities.
The Cubs face-of-the-franchise first baseman wants to be a complete player.
Rizzo is 25 now and has the experience that comes with more than 1,900 plate appearances in The Show. He’s quietly raising his game while rookies Kris Bryant and Addison Russell get used to the Wrigley Field spotlight.
“I don’t ever want to be one-dimensional,” Rizzo said after Tuesday’s 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I don’t ever want to be just a hitter. I want to do it all. That’s how we lead this team by example. We go first-to-third. We break up the double play. We run out groundballs that we’re pissed at.
“If we (don’t) all do (it), no one’s going to do it. It’s just about doing everything – all the little things. Everyone wants to just put the emphasis on hitting and fielding, but it’s all the other little things, too, that go into being a complete player and a complete team.”
Rizzo stole his sixth base this season, already matching his career-high (2013) by April 28. (Even if Dexter Fowler made a coattails motion by his locker after Rizzo pulled off the double steal against Pittsburgh’s Jeff Locke and Francisco Cervelli.)
It probably says more about the Cubs crunching the numbers, taking advantage of pitcher/catcher combinations and sensing opportunities than manager Joe Maddon waving some magic wand to be aggressive.
But coming off a 32-homer season, Rizzo is also hitting .323 with a .477 on-base percentage and looking like one of the few above-average defenders on a team that’s not particularly strong in that department.
After playing on Cubs teams that lost 286 games across the last three seasons, Rizzo will appreciate a 12-7 record in April a little bit more.
“No doubt,” Rizzo said. “Everyone’s more upbeat. We’re not 10 games under .500 going into May. We got a good group. We come to the ballpark and we enjoy each other. We pick up each other and we have fun.”