When asked about Anthony Rizzo's latest hot streak, Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn't want to roll out the usual superlatives.
Instead, he paid the Cubs first baseman an even higher compliment, comparing Rizzo to Reds star Joey Votto.
Rizzo has been on fire lately, reaching base 28 times in his last 52 plate appearances, posting a .415/.538/.634 slash line in his last 11 games. He's been even better the past five games, reaching safely on 15 of 24 plate appearances. It helps that he's been hit by a pitch a league-leading six times.
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That puts Rizzo atop the National League with a .493 on-base percentage entering play Saturday, drawing comparisons to the 2010 NL MVP.
"If you want to teach a young left-handed hitter how to break the shift, watch what [Rizzo] is doing right now," Maddon said. "Probably the best 'B-hack' — with two strikes — I've seen in a long time. He just makes adjustments.
"Votto's like that. Rizzo and [Votto] kind of resemble each other. When the at-bat gets deep, Votto will choke up, do different things. I really appreciate that about his at-bats.
"That's the thing I think young hitters just don't understand or work on enough. It's like one size fits all with their swings. They don't understand how to manipulate the bat head with their hands. I think Rizz does and I definitely know Votto does.
"That's how you eliminate shifting on left-handed hitters — teach them young how to utilize their hands and what to do when they get to two strikes. Those two lefties are really good at it."
Votto has earned a reputation as one of the most cerebral hitters in the game today, utilizing a laser focus at the plate and an incredible batting eye. He led the NL in OBP four years in a row from 2010-13 and still posted a .390 mark last season despite a .255 average as he struggled through injuries and played in just 62 games.
Votto may be 31, but he doesn't appear ready to pass the torch to 25-year-old Rizzo just yet. Votto is fifth in the NL with a .462 OBP, hitting .344 with six homers and 15 RBI.
Rizzo hasn't quite shown that power yet — with only three doubles and two homers on the season — but he does have three extra-base hits in the last two games, including a two-run homer in the series opener with the Reds Friday night.
After reaching base four times in five trips to the plate in Friday's victory, Rizzo broke down his recent hot stretch simply:
"It's just baseball," he said. "Just trying to do what I do every day and luckily, I'm getting good results right now."