Anthony Rizzo has slowly become the face of the Chicago Cubs. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people who’ve only just now started to follow the Cubs – no, not you, those ‘other’ people – and for those fans they’ve only really just begun to get to know Anthony. But for the hardcore Cubs fans – yes, you! – we’ve known about Rizzo for a while now. As the longest tenured member of the Chicago Cubs, Anthony is an unquestionable leader in the clubhouse and on the field.
He joined the Cubs in 2012, when the team was in the midst of a five-year streak where they’d finish in last place each year. Of course, that all turned around in 2015 when the Cubs would win 97 games under the leadership of first year head coach Joe Maddon. They’d go on to win a one-game playoff against the Pittsburgh Pirates, beat the snot out of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS and then get swept out of the playoffs by the New York Mets in the NLCS. I won’t ever forget that night, that feeling. I’d imagine that the players on the field felt the same way, ‘we’ll be back, just you wait.’
Of course, we all know what happened in 2016 (game 7 recap here, parade highlights here), when those ‘lovable losers’ would turn that phrase on it’s head, kick it to the curb and replace it with a ‘we’ll take on any team, any time’ mentality.
All along that road, Anthony Rizzo was there. He’s always had such an incredible, kid-like approach to the game of baseball. That smile, that youthful exuberance, that gleaming energy is something that defines this man. I’m sure if he ever read those words he’d blush and just smile. The affirmation we all get, now that the first chapter of the joy-ride is over (don’t worry, many more chapters still to come), is to watch Anthony get recognized for his efforts by his peers and all those that give out MLB awards.
On Tuesday, earlier this week, Anthony was awarded with the Gold Glove Award. Then again, on Thursday, Rizzo walked away with the Silver Slugger Award, given to the best offensive producer at each position. And now, Anthony has been awarded the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award. This is an award that combines traditional stats with advanced baseball metrics and data from the scouting service Inside Edge to determine who performed in the most exceptional way for their position. Unlike some of the other awards, the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year is awarded to only one player per position, irregardless of league.
This year Anthony Rizzo gets that well-deserved recognition for a first baseman. Congrats to our boy, Anthony Rizzo, the modern-day Mr. Cub.