Joseph Pytleski

“The Rizz would be the shizz but the dude can’t hit lefties.”

- John Doe, Fantasy-Roto-Xpert

To be sure, this article is going to focus on 356 plate appearances. In reality, we’re actually going to focus on a subset of this number. I don’t like small sample sizes (SSS), but at the same token it’s unfair to say what most of the experts are saying. Well, let me qualify that—it’s unfair to say it how they’re saying it. I’m going to argue that, in fact, Rizzo is probably going to be just fine. Let’s look at the evidence.

When I first looked at Rizzo’s splits, just like more of the other ‘perts churning out 1b rankings right now, I saw what everyone saw:

Split

G

AB

PA

H

1B

2B

3B

HR

R

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

HBP

SF

SH

GDP

SB

CS

AVG

vs L

180

320

356

62

37

13

0

12

12

43

30

0

74

4

2

0

6

0

0

0.194

vs R

270

751

855

193

113

50

3

27

27

94

94

9

161

9

1

0

15

0

0

0.25

 

Conclusion? Rizzo obviously can’t hit lefties. I even delved deeper into his numbers a couple of weeks back and found out that his plate coverage is fairly weak low and away in the zone and that he generates weak contact (i.e., lots of popups) against LHP in general. This seemed to be the consensus opinion on Rizzo and at first I didn’t think any more of it. “The guy just needs to improve versus LHP or he’s not going to take the next step forward,” I opined.

Then, I happened upon the following:

Split

G

AB

PA

H

1B

2B

HR

R

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

GDP

AVG

Home vs L

89

153

173

40

21

11

8

18

29

17

0

27

4

0.261

Away vs L

93

167

183

22

16

2

4

7

14

13

0

47

2

0.132

 

Are you reading what I’m reading? Sure, look at the 356 PAs as a whole and the dude can’t hit lefties, but he seems to enjoy lefties just fine when playing against the backdrop of the ivy on the north side. More singles, 5 times the amount of doubles, double the homers, more walks, less strikeouts. Uh, the .261 average isn’t great but then again, look at the home splits in general:

Split

G

AB

PA

H

1B

2B

HR

R

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

HBP

GDP

AVG

Home vs L

89

153

173

40

21

11

8

18

29

17

0

27

2

4

0.261

Home vs R

135

375

432

94

54

25

13

53

46

53

6

88

3

10

0.251

 

Given the caveats of straight up extrapolation, if I even up the ABs the numbers look awfully comparable:

Split

G

AB

PA

H

1B

2B

3B

HR

R

RBI

BB

IBB

SO

HBP

GDP

AVG

Home v. L (ext)

375

424

98

51

27

0

20

44

71

42

0

66

5

10

0.261

Home vs R

135

375

432

94

54

25

2

13

53

46

53

6

88

3

10

0.251

 

Given this is a SSS, but again people are using the SSS against Rizzo presently so I’m just arguing in the other way. At this point, he’s doing just fine against lefties (at Wrigley). Don’t believe me? Look at his Balls in Play mix:

Split

BABIP

GB/FB

LD%

GB%

FB%

IFFB%

HR/FB

IFH%

Home vs L

0.282

1.36

20.30%

45.90%

33.80%

8.00%

16.00%

5.90%

Away vs L

0.13

0.82

13.90%

38.90%

47.20%

20.60%

8.80%

0.00%

Home vs R

0.275

1.36

17.70%

47.50%

34.80%

5.50%

16.40%

8.00%

Away vs R

0.284

0.99

23.30%

38.10%

38.60%

8.80%

10.30%

6.00%

 

To summarize, there is a weak contact problem that Rizzo has against lefties. Nowhere does this show up more clearly then when Rizzo goes on a road trip. The line drives disappear, the GB/FB rates flip flop, and, lo and behold, is that an almost 21% IFFB rate? C’mon now.

Let’s at least note Rizzo has a solid walk-rate at home against Lefties (actually much better than away vs. righties), but everything falls off when facing lefties (only) away.

Split

BB%

K%

BB/K

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wRC

wOBA

Home vs L

12.10%

15.90%

0.76

0.264

0.364

0.473

0.837

0.209

16.2

0.367

Away vs L

8.30%

24.80%

0.33

0.121

0.202

0.222

0.424

0.101

2.1

0.198

Home vs R

13.10%

19.50%

0.67

0.246

0.347

0.458

0.806

0.212

32.2

0.348

Away vs R

9.70%

15.50%

0.62

0.258

0.336

0.451

0.787

0.192

31.2

0.341

…pretty interesting that he’s fine at against them at home…again better than righties away almost any way you look at it.

 

Let’s turn to some pitch data. Here is what he’s seen so far:

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 1.45.36 PM

His career results off LHP:

results.rizzo.lhp

…and off RHP:

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 1.44.51 PM

 

It’s clear that LHP’s show him quite a bit of sliders and sinkers which has been quite effective. The top 5 lefties, by plate appearances that Rizzo faced last year, are Francisco Liriano, Tony Cingrani, Wade Miley, Madison Bumgarner, and Patrick Corbin. Although Cingrani was more or less a fastball only pitcher, his second-best offering was his slider. Unfortunately, take a look at this matrix:

Pitcher

Pitch

Percentage

Usage Rank

M. Bumgarner

Slider

36.80%

3

F.Liriano

Slider

36.40%

4

P. Corbin

Slider

22.80%

27

W. Miley

Slider

15.10%

50

T. Cigrani

Slider

7.40%

n/a

 

If these are the pitchers Rizzo is going to see on a regular basis, then he had better figure out the slider quickly…luck should take care of the rest (.194 BABIP on a 30% linedrive rate off of the LHP slider doesn’t add-up).

Rizzo has a clear hole – his minor league splits have followed him which should continue to limit his value. If there is a silver lining, it’s that he’s been able to handle lefties just fine at Wrigley, and I expect bad luck not to play as much of a role…not to mention that the counting stats still add up to 25+ HR, 70+R & 90ish RBI.

 

Sources:

Fangraphs

Baseball-Reference

Minor League Central

Brooks Baseball

 

8 comments on “2014 Player Profile: Anthony Rizzo…He CAN Hit Lefties

  1. This is the single best, most in-depth player analysis I’ve seen all winter. Well done.

  2. Joseph PytleskiJoseph Pytleski on said:

    Carl,

    Thanks for the kind words. We could speculate all day as to the reason why this is happening so far, but it would be just that, speculation. I’d like to see some more sample size, but we at least need to stop with the “can’t hit LHP” mantra going around.

  3. I just traded for this guy in a keeper league due to this write up. I guess that is the strongest compliment I can give someone.

    • Joseph Pytleski on said:

      Well you can thank me after the season if he goes bonkers. I’ll take the credit then! Honestly, I was as surprised as anyone when I started digging, as I was hopping off the bandwagon on Rizzo. I think there’s value there this year, based on what I found, and I’m surprised actually that this piece hasn’t been making more rounds b/c, to my knowledge, no one else is talking about this — and Rizzo hitting lefties is the biggest knock on this guy!

  4. Really nice work Joe. This is the kind of info that wins leagues. I was on the fence with Rizzo, but I have him as a $2 keeper and after reading this I will give him another shot.

    • Joseph Pytleski on said:

      Colin,

      Thanks man. This is the kind of info we want to be able to share with the fantasy community so keep coming back and follow me on Twitter (@agape4argentina).

      • Joe if I keep Rizzo in my NL…would you keep Goldy at $41 as well? We have a IF and U position. I’m torn between holding on to him and putting him back, but worried I might have to overpay to get him back. If I don’t keep him I can keep Cabrera for $5 or Samardjiza for $1. Thoughts? My other keepers already are Craig 9, Alvarez 1, Baez 1, Taveras 1. We keep 7. Thanks!

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