In just a few years, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has evolved from a young beacon of hope for a franchise on the rise to the elder statesman of a curse-shattering superpower. The 28-year-old led the North Siders to three straight NLCS appearances - including the team's first World Series title in 108 years - from 2015-17 by hitting more than 30 homers and crossing the 100-RBI mark in each campaign. The left-handed slugger also owns a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award in addition to his three All-Star nods and four top-15 MVP finishes.
Rizzo, along with Cubs teammate and former NL MVP Kristopher Bryant, has Cubs fans salivating at the thought of hoisting the trophy for the second time in three years. Now, with another opportunity to win it all on the horizon, Rizzo is ready to share his secrets to being one of the toughest outs in baseball -- just in time for most youth league seasons.
Locked and Loaded
The most important thing in baseball, regardless of how old you are or what level of baseball you're playing, is to see the ball. I know it's an old cliché: "Keep your eye on the ball," but it's true.
Fast and Furious
[I'm] hunting the fastball 100 percent of the time. The best way to hit a curveball is to hit a fastball. You have to have the eye and be disciplined enough to not swing at the pitches off the plate or the pitches in off the plate, and just control the strike zone.
Down, but Not Out
With two strikes, they could throw that nasty pitch and if I foul it off, I win, because the odds are that a pitcher's not going to throw two or three of those in a row. I go with the mentality that says, "He just threw his best curveball, there's no way he can throw that again." If he does, hopefully I can foul it off again.
Track the Ball
Being comfortable in the batter's box sets up your whole at-bat. You have to find a batting stance that puts you in the best position to track the ball with both eyes coming out of the pitcher's hand.