(CBS) Entering play Wednesday evening, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo boasted a stat line that was in rarified air in today’s strikeout-heavy era. He had hit 30 homers, struck out 74 times and walked 74 times through 131 games.
Such discipline in the form of a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio without sacrificing power is rare for a slugger in a time in which pitch velocities and strikeouts have spiked, and Rizzo’s abilities have wowed his teammates such as rookie Ian Happ. It’s in large part because of Rizzo’s two-strike approach, in which he chokes up a great deal on the bat and shortens his swing.
“Rizzo has more walks than strikeouts (almost) in an era when guys are pushing physical limits that you’ve never seen before,” Happ said in an interview with Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins on 670 The Score on Wednesday. “That’s incredible.
“What do you have? 0.4 seconds to react? 0.2 to make a decision? Two-tenths of a second to make a decision! And then you have to hit a round ball with a round bat. That’s not easy. I don’t think so.”
Happ has made a point to study Rizzo’s at-bats carefully.
“Watching Rizzo work at-bats and taking some of the nastiest pitches is really impressive,” Happ said. “I think what’s more impressive is you’ll see him swing 0-0 at a ball in the dirt and you’ll kind of look like, ‘Oh, that was weird.’ And then you’ll watch him get to 1-1, swing at a ball in the dirt. And then when it gets to two strikes, he doesn’t swing at anything. And I think the most impressive thing is the way he makes adjustments.”
Listen to the full interview below with Happ and Cubs reliever C.J. Edwards.