“Regression Risk?!?!”: Is Anthony Rizzo Destined To Disappoint In 2017?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Anthony Rizzo is coming off his third straight 30+ HR season, so why would we think that anything different may be on the horizon for the 27-year old slugger? Just looking at his split in the power department from last season should give us a little indication as to why there could be some concern:

  • First Half – .299 with 21 HR in 308 AB
  • Second Half – .284 with 11 HR in 275 AB

Part of the decline may have been a conscious decision, as his fly ball rate went from 44.7% to 37.4%. In its place was an increase in line drives (18.8% to 22.1%), which may be even more important.  Keep in mind that his overall line drive rate has been on the decline over the past three seasons:

  • 2014 – 22.1%
  • 2015 – 21.8%
  • 2016 – 20.3%

After a 17.9% line drive rate in the second half of 2015 it makes sense, so we do have to wonder… Will he continue to focus more on line drives or will he focus on the power?

Chances are power will be the focus, and 30+ HR will be expected (and with his 43 doubles and 4 triples in 2016 there’s every reason to think it will continue). Will it come at the cost of his average though? He hit .255 in the second half of 2015 and it’s easy to imagine his .302 BABIP in the first half of 2016 not being maintainable given the line drive rate.

Of course his strong contact rate (8.8% SwStr%) and power will help him keep his average elevated. Could he have a poor year, ultimately hitting .250ish? Possibly, but it’s not something we’d bank on either. His floor is more likely .265-.270, in a bad year, but there’s a very good chance he exceeds that.

Throw in the potential to reach 10 SB (he had 17 in 2015) and hitting in the middle of a loaded Chicago lineup, there’s obviously a lot to like. First base is an extremely deep position, but when we are talking about a floor of .270/28/90, with the likelihood of exceeding that line, there’s every reason to believe.

Destined to disappoint? We think not!

Source – Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catcher03/20/1702/28/17
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Shortstop02/13/1703/15/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
03/19/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17
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Relief Pitcher01/02/17--

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