For Anthony Rizzo, leading off has been just what the doctor ordered.
Rizzo was hitting .149/.259/.189 through the end of April; he had been 1 for his last 18. Then he hit leadoff on May 1, hit a leadoff home run and hit a more Rizzo-like .303/.408/.576 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 26 games that month.
Fast-forward to July. Rizzo suffered a four-game stretch where he went 0-for-19. Back to the leadoff spot he went. Let’s take a look at Anthony Rizzo in the No. 1 spot.
The Greatest Leadoff Hitter of All Time
Rizzo has 23 career starts at the leadoff spot. In those games:
.383/.475/.741 with 16 runs, 7 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs, 18 RBIs, 14 walks, 13 strikeouts, 3 HBP
In the 23 plate appearances leading off those games:
.579/.652/1.421 with 4 singles, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 4 home runs, 2 walks and 2 HBP. That's 15 times reaching base, only eight outs.
He reached base to lead off the game in each of his first seven career starts at leadoff (last year June 13-20). He reached base to lead off the game in six straight games from July 14-21.
And he has done more than simply lead off games. Take this weekend doubleheader against the Cardinals for example. He reached base four times in each game!
How often does a Cub do that? Not very often.
Cubs with four times on base in both games of a doubleheader since 1950 (“times on base” refers to hits, walks or hit by pitch):
|Player||Date||Game 1||Game 2|
|Anthony Rizzo||July 21, 2018||Hit, 3 walks||4 hits|
|Ryne Sandberg||Sept. 19, 1992||3 hits, walk||2 hits, 3 walks|
|Ivan DeJesus||July 7, 1979||3 hits, walk||Hit, 3 walks|
|Lou Brock||Aug. 11, 1963||2 hits, 2 walks||4 hits|
Overall, since Maddon placed Rizzo in the leadoff spot earlier this month (8 games), he has hit .556/.658/.815 with 15 hits, 6 extra-base hits and 8 walks, compared to only 5 strikeouts, and 2 HBP.
In fact, in nine plate appearances leading off games this season (including that leadoff home run on May 1), he has two singles, a double, a triple, a home run, a walk, a hit by pitch and two outs. Will he reach on an error or perhaps catcher’s interference? He certainly has had the variety.
This probably won’t last forever, but it does speak to Joe Maddon’s ability to get the most out of his team. And it encourages one to trust in Rizzo’s track record.
Rizzo leads off tonight against the Diamondbacks. Let’s see what he does next.