Anthony Rizzo is an American professional baseball first baseman who has become one of the most popular and productive players in the game today. Rizzo has built an impressive MLB career with the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees, establishing himself as both an offensive force at the plate and defensive anchor at first base.
Career At A Glance
|Full Name||Anthony Vincent Rizzo|
|Birthday||August 8, 1989 (age 34)|
|Born||Parkland, Florida, United States|
|MLB Debut||June 9, 2011, San Diego Padres|
|Current Team||New York Yankees|
|Career Home Runs||283|
|Awards||3x All-Star, 4x Gold Glove, 1x Silver Slugger, 2020 NL Batting Title|
Early Life and Path to the Majors
Anthony Rizzo grew up in Parkland, Florida and attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where he starred on the baseball team as a power-hitting first baseman. He batted .468 with 24 HRs as a senior, leading his team to a state championship.
Rizzo was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 6th round of the 2007 MLB draft. He spent three seasons in Boston‘s minor league system, showing promise by hitting .263 with 42 home runs across three levels.
Prior to the 2011 season, Rizzo was traded to the San Diego Padres in a deal for superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. He tore through the minors and made his MLB debut with the Padres as a 21-year old in June of 2011.
Breakout With the Chicago Cubs
Following his rookie year, Rizzo was traded to the Chicago Cubs in January 2012. It marked a turning point in his career and the beginning of his rise to stardom.
Rizzo cracked the Cubs opening day lineup in 2012 and never looked back. In his first season with Chicago, he batted .285 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs. It was just a preview of what was to come.
From 2013-2019, Rizzo was the heart of the Cubs order, averaging 30 home runs and 100 RBIs per season. He made three consecutive All-Star appearances from 2014-2016 and put up an MVP-caliber year in 2015, hitting .278 with 31 HRs and 101 RBIs.
Rizzo‘s clutch hitting was pivotal in helping the Cubs end their 108-year World Series drought in 2016. Batting cleanup, he delivered key hits throughout the playoffs, including driving in the go-ahead run in Game 6 of the NLCS.
In addition to his offense, Rizzo earned a reputation as an elite defensive first baseman. He won the Gold Glove award four straight seasons from 2016 to 2019.
Continued Excellence With the Yankees
In July 2021, Rizzo was traded mid-season to the New York Yankees. He made an immediate impact in pinstripes, batting .249 down the stretch with 8 home runs in 49 games.
Rizzo re-signed with the Yankees as a free agent prior to 2022 on a 2-year, $32 million deal. He put together another strong campaign in his first full season in New York, hitting 76 RBIs and 32 home runs – just shy of his career high.
Now age 33, Rizzo remains entrenched as the Yankees first baseman and continues to anchor the middle of their order. He passed the 280 career home run mark in 2022 and has his sights set on joining the 300 HR club in the near future.
Playing Style and Approach
Rizzo‘s approach at the plate is geared for power. He uses a leg kick to build momentum and keeps his hands back, whipping the barrel through the zone to drive the ball with authority. His swing path produces towering flyballs, with most of his homers pulled to right field.
Despite being left handed, Rizzo is adept at using the whole field. He will take pitches on the outer half of the plate the other way for singles and doubles. Rizzo maintains excellent plate discipline and draws plenty of walks to complement his power.
Defensively, Rizzo‘s 6‘3" frame allows him to stretch and scoop throws that other first basemen can‘t reach. His footwork, hands, and instincts rank him as one of the best in the game at manning the position. Rizzo makes the difficult plays look routine.
Off the Field Accomplishments
Off the diamond, Rizzo is widely praised for his leadership and extensive charity work. He annually hosts the "Cook-Off for Cancer" to raise funds for cancer research and support families of patients.
Rizzo also founded the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation in 2012 to support cancer patients and their families. Through donations and events, his foundation has raised millions to provide vital assistance to those battling cancer.
Additionally, Rizzo has been active in supporting victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in his hometown of Parkland, Florida. He frequently visits families and advocates for reforming gun laws.
Outlook Moving Forward
Having turned 34 in August 2022, Rizzo likely has several more highly productive seasons in his future. He remains under contract with the Yankees through 2023.
Some career milestones within reach for Rizzo include:
- Reaching 300 career home runs (currently at 283)
- Driving in 1,000+ career RBIs (currently at 861)
- Hitting his 1,500th career hit (currently at 1,281)
Rizzo figures to continue his excellence both at the plate and in the field for years to come. While his days of playing for the Cubs have passed, Rizzo remains beloved in Chicago while creating new memories for Yankees fans. He is undoubtedly one of the best first basemen of his generation.