Lately there have been some comparisons between Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro that have come out of nowhere. We've talked a lot about Starlin Castro around here so before we get back to a comparison, let's take a look at what Rizzo has done this season. Myles wrote about it awhile back, but it's been over a month so let's take an updated look.
Rizzo entered the season coming off a 116 wRC+ a year ago. The fans were probably expecting more from him based on his first month or so with Chicago, but the end result was a player in 2012 who was solidly above average at the plate, but not great. He was young for sure and had potential to build on that season. The fans and probably the Cubs themselves expected more from Rizzo than he was capable of providing.
Despite that, Rizzo has still been a solid player for the Cubs. Considering the extension he got, I do think it's safe to say the Cubs expected more than a 105 wRC+ season and 1.6 fWAR through 546 plate appearances.
There are encouraging signs beyond the diminished production, though. His walk rate has increased to 11.2% from 7.3% a year ago. While increasing the walk rate, the strikeout rate hasn't jumped considerably. He's working a deeper count to work his way on base without getting a hit and he's only struckout a little bit more frequently than last year.
Not that a .252 BABIP is encouraging, but the fact it is so low gives us reason to believe that more hits will be falling in for him in the future. He's been a very good fielder at 1st again, too.
Most importantly, we've seen progress in the walks, along with more power. He hit 15 home runs in just over 350 PA a year ago so the 20 this year is a slight decline. However, his ISO has risen from .178 to .200. He's had more doubles this year.
Last year he hit 15 doubles and this year he's already hit 32 of them. He had just 30 extra base hits last year, or an extra base hit every 12.2 plate appearances. This year he has 54 extra base hits or one every 10 plate appearances.
I wouldn't consider Rizzo's 2013 season to be a good one, but it's far from a bad one either. I'm also far from convinced it has had any impact on our expectations moving forward. My expectations for Rizzo were probably a bit less than most Cubs fans, but that's probably true of every prospect. More though, I just didn't see Rizzo becoming a superstar that some were ready to concede almost inevitable. Other still, GW around here, didn't see that to my knowledge, but probably expected more.
I know GW and I briefly spoke about it in the comments awhile back and he felt the same as me: while not as good a season as we expect, it doesn't really move the needle in terms of what to expect in the future.
About the only way in which Rizzo's season is comparable to Starlin Castro's is his batting average. Rizzo is batting just .230 and Castro .237. Beyond that, these two have had very different seasons.
Starlin Castro has sucked. There's no other way to look at his season. It's been more awful than anyone thought possible. Anthony Rizzo has not sucked. The seasons aren't comparable. Castro has been a below replacement level player and Rizzo has essentially been league average. There is a massive difference between these two seasons.