The Chicago Cubs are wrapping up a disappointing 2012 season and currently have a record of 59-94. One of the bright spots fans can take away from this year has been the emergence of first baseman Anthony Rizzo. For once the Cubs had a rebuilding season where some of the franchise's young players received significant opportunities to contribute. While some players have not been as impressive in Chicago this year, Rizzo has certainly met all expectations.
Playing in approximately half of a season, Rizzo has hit .290 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs. At 23 years old, Rizzo still has tremendous upside, and fans are excited about his future. This is a team that has had success with long-term first basemen recently, due to the stability provided by Mark Grace (1988-2000) and Derrek Lee (2004-10). But can Rizzo put up the types of numbers that those two past Cubs greats did?
Grace was not a power hitter, but did manage 148 homers as a Cub. More impressive were his .308 batting average, .386 on-base percentage and 456 doubles. Furthermore, Grace was a fan favorite in Chicago.
After a few seasons without a permanent first baseman, Lee filled the void in 2004. Over seven seasons he hit .298 with a .378 on-base percentage, nearly matching Grace's production. Lee also had more power than Grace, belting 179 home runs and driving in 574 runs for the Cubs.
Now it is time for Rizzo to follow and hopefully remain a familiar face at first base for the next several years. Like Grace and Lee before him, Rizzo has the chance to be loved by some of the greatest and most loyal fans in sports. Judging by the numbers he has posted in his first season, Rizzo has the talent to lead this team and can hopefully help the Cubs return to the playoffs very soon. Cubs fans have waited forever for postseason success, and if Rizzo can help Chicago get there, his statistics will not matter as much. Fans simply want this team to win.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.
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- Anthony Rizzo
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