The lowdown on FA 1B Anthony Rizzo

November 28th, 2021

When 23-year-old Anthony Rizzo agreed to a seven-year, $41 million contract extension with the Cubs in 2013, the deal included a slew of options and escalators in the hopes that the left-handed-hitting first baseman would blossom into an All-Star and lead Chicago to its first World Series in over 100 years. He did exactly that, before being traded to the Yankees for the 2021 stretch run.

Now, with every box checked and every incentive cashed, the three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner is a free agent for the first time ahead of his age-32 season.

Follow all of the latest Rizzo rumors here.

Here’s what you need to know about Rizzo:

FAST FACTS
Birthdate: Aug. 8, 1989 (Age 32 in 2022)
Primary position: 1B
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 240 lbs.
Bats/throws: Left/left
Place of birth: Parkland, Fla.
School: Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS (Fla.)
Drafted: Sixth round, 2007, by Red Sox
MLB debut: June 9, 2011
Qualifying offer: Not eligible to receive one

THE NUMBERS
2021: .248/.344/.440 (111 OPS+), 22 HR, 1.7 WAR* in 141 G
Career: .268/.369/.481 (127 OPS+), 251 HR, 36.9 WAR* in 1,406 G
*Per Baseball-Reference

STAT TO KNOW
Rizzo leads all qualified first basemen across the last six seasons (2016-21) with 24 Outs Above Average (OAA) and 18 Runs Prevented at first base. The veteran infielder has won three straight Gold Glove Awards and trailed only the Dodgers’ Max Muncy in OAA this year with six.

QUESTION MARK
Will Rizzo’s back become a bigger issue? The slugger displayed tremendous durability and collected numerous pieces of hardware in his 20s but has begun to show signs of the wear and tear associated with nearly 1,500 regular-season and playoff games. He still appeared in 141 games this season for the Cubs and Yankees but required consistent maintenance on his back throughout the season.

He’s in good company
Rizzo’s contract year came with a slight drop-off in production, but he is still among this era’s most productive first basemen, trailing only Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman and Joey Votto on FanGraphs’ WAR leaderboard since he signed his initial extension over nine years ago.

He’s still a tough out
Rizzo has been among the top 25 percent of all hitters when it comes to both whiff and strikeout rate each of the past five seasons, and he couples that with a max exit velocity that ranks among the top 10 percent of all batters as well.

Rizzo encountered a dip in effectiveness against breaking and offspeed pitches this year, per Baseball Savant, but he continues to punish fastballs at an excellent and consistent clip.

He made an unexpected postseason cameo
Despite the Yankees being bounced in this year’s AL Wild Card Game, Rizzo made somewhat of a splash during the Division Series when Braves outfielder Joc Pederson launched a clutch three-run home run using a bat he “borrowed” from his former Cubs teammate.

"I stole it from him when we were in Chicago," Pederson said after the game. "It has a lot of hits in it, so thanks."

He has a memorable 0.00 ERA
Rizzo had been begging to pitch until he finally got his opportunity in 2018, coaxing AJ Pollock into an out before stepping off the mound and “retiring” with a spotless record.

Three years later, Rizzo put his perfect ERA on the line when he called out his good friend and perennial All-Star “Frederick” Freeman and toed the slab once again. The result? One of the funniest moments and coolest strikeouts of the entire 2021 season.

He’s more than an athlete
A Roberto Clemente Award winner in 2017 and MLBPAA Heart & Hustle Award winner in 2015, Rizzo started the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation in 2012, less than five years after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The foundation has donated millions to hospitals in the Chicago and South Florida areas as well as assisted with fundraising throughout the years for a variety of causes.