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Cubs Opinion

Cubbies On My Mind: Rizzo’s Consistency & Defending Maddon

The Chicago Cubs have a lot to be proud of after rough 30 day stretch of games.

Anthony Rizzo Is Who We Thought He Was

On May 17th, Anthony Rizzo was slashing .195/.301/.358. He was in the midst of a terrible slump and looked lost at the plate. Rizzo has had early season struggles in the past, but this year’s stretch was deeper and longer than in previous seasons.

Rizzo’s stretch of consistent seasons was in jeopardy. From 2014-17, Rizzo had 31 or 32 home runs in each season. From 2015-17, he accumulated over 101 RBIs in each year. His batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage have ranges of just .019, .007, and .037, respectively. Rizzo has been arguably the most consistent hitter in the league over the past four seasons.

But surely, with the length and depth of his early-season struggles this season, he couldn’t get back to those levels in 2018, right?

Well, don’t look now, but he’s nearly gotten there. He is now slashing .277/.372/.466 and has been hot since the all-star break. He’s on pace to reach 100 RBIs again and has the lowest strikeout percentage of his career.

Rizzo is the player we’ve always thought he was. You know exactly what you are going to get from him year-to-year.

Plus, he does stuff like that 17-pitch at-bat on Tuesday night.

Don’t Take Joe Maddon for Granted

I’ve talked about Joe Maddon and his value in past editions of COMM, but once again a situation has come about that has made people question his management.

Last week when Pedro Strop was given an at-bat in the top of the 10th inning against the Washington Nationals, the pitcher injured his hamstring. Both local and national outlets discussed the decision to have Strop in the game at that point. It was a curious decision, to say the least, especially considering that Strop has already pitched 1 2/3 innings and was going to be pitching in a third inning.

However, with multiple players not available due to the team being at the ballpark for the 24th consecutive day, six relievers already used in the game, and no remaining non-pitchers left on the bench, there weren’t many other options. Yes, he could have told Strop not to swing, but you never expect a professional athlete to injure themselves running. It was a freak occurrence.

The fact is, Joe Maddon is one of the best managers in the game today. At the very least, there is nobody available that would be a better option at this time. He has led a team that has dealt with a bunch of injuries to some of their best players to maintain the best record in the National League. Everyone on the roster gets playing time under his watch.

And he’s gotten good performances from players that weren’t expected to contribute at this level this season.

The fact is, for 108 years the Cubs didn’t experience the success they are experiencing over these last four seasons. Fans prayed for what they are getting now, and too many people aren’t appreciating what is in front of them.

Joe Maddon has the chance to lead the Cubs to their FOURTH STRAIGHT NLCS appearance this season. In a sport that is difficult to have extended success, the Cubs have not had players act out or complain about playing time. They have had player turnover, and yet everyone gets along in the clubhouse. They have had injuries, but the next man has stepped up over and over.

Nobody is going to agree with every decision a manager makes, but I hope fans don’t think the grass is always greener on the other side. Stop for a moment and appreciate what Joe Maddon has helped to build here on the north side of Chicago.

Stats of the Week

Cubs record since August 21st – 18-10 – Wednesday will be the 30th straight day the Cubs have been at the ballpark ready to play a baseball game. That is not easy to deal with. The team is clearly exhausted. And yet, they are eight games over .500 over that time. The Cubs survived the most difficult stretch of the season.

Brewers record since August 21st – 16-9 – Over that same period, the team that trails the Cubs in the division is only seven games over .500. That’s right, the Cubs extended their division lead over this stretch. The season is not over yet, but the Cubs are proving their resiliency.

Follow Christopher on Twitter–Featured Photo Credit: USA Today 

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