Anthony Rizzo: Ignore the Hype and Sell

Last night was Anthony Rizzo‘s 2012 MLB debut and he started it off with a bang. He went 2-4 with a double and an RBI. He got the call up after hitting 0.342 with 23 HRs in AAA. While he has dominated AAA, here is a look at what kind of production can be expected from him in the majors this season.

Rizzo may seem to be 3 true outcome player with most of his minor league plate appearances ending in a strikeout (20.3%), walk (9.5%) or home run (4.6%). Of all his minor league PAs, 34.3% ended with one of those 3 events. Here are 4 major league players with similar types of numbers so far in 2012:

Name: BB%, K%, HR%
Alex Rodriguez: 21.0%, 10.3%, 4.0%
Ty Wigginton: 23.2%, 9.0%, 3.0%
Nick Swisher: 20.8%, 8.7%, 4.5%
Andrew McCutchen: 19.8%, 8.7%, 4.5%

These comparisons are fairly decent. They each are putting up an OK amount of Ks, BBs and HRs, but not to the Carlos Pena level in each category.

Another way to see how he is expect to hit is to average the triple slash lines for the 6 projection systems available for him at Fangraphs (0.247/0.330/0.443). The average value can then be compared to find other similar players. Here are 5 players putting up similar triple slash lines in 2012:

Nick Markakis: 0.256/0.333/0.452
Matt Wieters: 0.254/0.336/0.446
Alex Rodriguez: 0.264/0.353/0.425
Kyle Seager: 0.258/0.315/0.457
Todd Helton: 0.246/0.342/0.427

Not a great group of players, but they are each above average.

The projection values are based off of his 2011 and prior stats. He has shown some improvement in AAA this season compared to last season. I would bump his numbers up just a bit. Since Alex Rodriguez name comes up in both lists, I would put Arod’s rate stats as the bench mark for Rizzo this season.

As with any rookie there is going to be a ton of hype surrounding him, especially after last night. I would use this hype to my advantage. In a keeper league, I would ask for the world for him. Some owner will definitely over pay to have him on their team, but move quickly. His value is probably at the highest it will be in years. It can go down quickly if he puts up numbers like he did last year in the majors (0.141/0.281/0.242). In a re-draft league, I would sell him immediately to the highest bidder. The person will probably offer more than the 2012 version of Alex Rodriguez. Arod’s production is on average what Rizzo is most likely to produce.

Anthony Rizzo has had a great minor league season and had a nice game last night. Temper the expectations for him and see if some owner over values him. It is a perfect time to sell high, especially in re-draft leagues.

Print This Post

Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

23 Responses to “Anthony Rizzo: Ignore the Hype and Sell”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Dave (UK) says:

    I assume the first list order is actually:

    K%, BB%, HR%

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. William says:

    Why are you comparing Rizzo’s performance in AAA to the performances of numerous major leaguers? Why are you assuming he will group in with them? Why on Earth do you think someone will give you A-Rod and more? What about his swing or motion makes him a sell-high guy? Do you think he’s just a product of small sampling?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Colin says:

    I worry about any minor leaguer who K’s at > than 20%.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Tom says:

    Rizzo owner in a keeper league. I’m ok at 1B, but need OF help. What tier of OF’s should I be targeting if I’m going to deal Rizzo?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JKB says:

      Sometimes what I do is download the dashboard from fangraphs compute a quick distance metric to see which players (in your case OFs) currently are the closest across the dashboard of stats. Since AROD 2012 appears to be a reasonable guess for Rizzo, you could use:


      It also helps if you divide each stat by its mean first, before performing the calculation, so that each stat is equally weighted in the distance calculation. The OFs with the lowest distance from AROD would have some interesting similarities to AROD, which could then be leveraged in trade discussions. I’ve used this technique before to find some interesting similarities, although it is tough to get anybody in my league to do equitable trades.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Ryan says:

    This is an awful article man…. i dont think ANYONE considers arod a three true outcomes hitter. Nor do i think anyone would be willing to give arod for rizzo even if they DID believe the hype…..

    +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steve Balboni says:

      Rizzo may seem to be 3 true outcome player … Of all his minor league PAs, 34.3% ended with one of those 3 events….These comparisons are fairly decent…not to the Carlos Pena level in each category.

      I don’t see any claim that Arod, or Rizzo, are TTOs.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • William says:

        Rizzo may seem to be 3 true outcome player with most of his minor league plate appearances ending in a strikeout (20.3%), walk (9.5%) or home run (4.6%). Of all his minor league PAs, 34.3% ended with one of those 3 events. Here are 4 major league players with similar types of numbers so far in 2012

        If Rizzo seems to be a 3 TTO guy, and he likens to the guys in that first grouping, then it only follows that those guys in the group seem to be 3 TTO guys as well.

        Regardless, this article assumes quite a lot and compares apples to oranges. It’s completely worthless.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo says:

    I dropped Carlos Lee for him in a points league, and nobody has picked up Lee. I don’t think I could get a ton of value for Rizzo, so I will hold and hope for the best case scenario. If not, I will go back to Lee, or some other moderately productive waiver wire add. I think Rizzo has more upside than anyone on waivers right now, but I don’t imagine other owners are champing at the bit to give away good players to get him.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mr. Thell says:

      Tell us more about which players in your free agent pool your leaguemates have or have not picked up yet.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • NBH says:

        -10? That was one of the funniest Fangraphs comments in a while – thanks for the laugh Mr. Thell

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Metsox says:

    His double last night was total bs…..

    I own him and hope he turns out well….

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. SEB says:

    I’d like to see Will Middlebrooks’ recent minor league numbers compared to Rizzo’s to try to extrapolate reasonable expectations for him for this season. To me, they seem to be developmentally very similar. WMB currently sports k%/bb%/hr% rates of roughly 23%/5%/6% with a .318/.354/.570 line. While we should expect him to regress some due to a .364 babip, can’t we expect Rizzo, who has produced at a similarly high level in the minors, to at least be as useful as WMB has been, and should continue to be, in fantasy?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Big Winner says:

    Redraft league, just traded Trevor Bauer and Anthony Rizzo for Mike Trout. Yessssss…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason says:

      Got all three of them on my team. You could make a pretty solid all-rookie team this year, regardless of how Bauer and Rizzo work out.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Rob says:

    @SEB Middlebrooks did it in International league, Rizzo in the PCL. The Fantasy trashcan is filled with overhyped players from the PCL.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Paul says:

      That’s actually a common misconception when you factor in age. Last season he dominated the PCL at age 21, this year he is dominating the PCL at 22. Look at the PCL leaderboards and most of those guys, especially the power hitters, are at least 4 years older.

      This is not to mention that his GB% is much, much higher this year, which combined with the information about his swing change, indicates that he is dominating the league with a more direct swing rather than just trying to hook everything over the RF fence in Tucson. Last year his splits at home were dramatically better than on the road. This year playing outside of the thin air in the west, his home numbers are still dominant, although the road ISO is still higher.

      I have no idea where to begin with this article in general, but with respect to his dominance of the PCL at his age, the claim that young players do this all the time is simply not true. I suppose the fact that Mike Trout has not maintained his .400 AVG pace is proof of your position?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Matt NW says:

    I can only speak anecdotally, but aren’t most people ignoring the hype already? I mean, I assume competitive managers don’t get too excited about a Yahoo! hype story designed to get people to spend more time on the website, eh?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Ned says:

    Could nab Rizzo off the wire by dropping Kubel or Duda. Not sure he’s worth it, though. Any thoughts or feelings on the matter?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Sean says:

    34% is “most”?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. ginardo napoli says:

    Wait, are you really making a decision about a young player based upon ..1) three percentages –(20.3%), walk (9.5%) or home run (4.6%) — that don’t add to 50% and comparing it to other players and thinking this is actually a real comparison? And then you use the average of “projections” as a ballast for the first comparison?

    This is stupid and really just subjective blather justifying a pre-existing bias, because you taking a sub-sample while ignoring the rest of the population– and thus mistaking the sub-sample for the population.

    Your argument is about as meaningless as grabbing a few people who have the average weight for an average height and thinking their average IQ rates mean something predictive for others who have similar weights and heights.

    To get a more accurate population, you could rank the players with the highest K% there are 59 players. Just look at an incomplete list of who is included in this 59: Neil Walker, Carlos Santana, Gregor Blanco, Mark Trumbo, Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Reddick, Andre Ethier, Nick Swisher, the aforementioned A-Rod, Shin Soo Choo, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, Austin Jackson, Jason Heyward, Josh Willingham, Alfonso Soriano, Torii Hunter, Freddie Freeman, AJ Ellis, Michael Saunders, Chase Headley, David Freese, Dayan Viciedo, Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kubel, Miguel Montero, Adam Laroche, Giancarlo Stanton, Dexter Fowler, Nelson Cruz, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Corey Hart, Kelly Johnson, BJ Upton, Mike Napoli, Pedro Alvarez, Adam Dunn. That’s 39 players out of 59.

    Josh Hamilton has a 22% K rate and a 10.2% Walk rate. Uh oh. Matt Kemp in 2011 had a 23.1% K rate and a 10.7% Walk rate. OMG. Adam Jones has a 4.4% Walk rate this year. It was 4.7% last year and 3.7% the year before. And we can go back 5 years, 10 years, 25 years and you will find the same truth — you can’t use K% and walk rates alone when you assess the potential of a player.

    Contact rates are more important. And right now Rizzo hits 90% of the pithches that are strikes that he swing at; and 75% of the pitches that are not strikes that he swings at. Adam jones? 88% and 63%. Josh Hamilton? 77% and 54%.

    I really don’t understand the significance you think you are making. The evidence you are using to justify you believe that we should “ignore the hype” is ridiculously shallow.

    There is too much variability in players ability to make contact despite the K% and the walk rate to draw any meaningful conclusions, especially for a young player, and more especially for a player with essentially average K% and walk rates. Some players actually havelearning curve, and make adjustments. And some players are just plain good. But you are a fool if you think the analysis you are using is anything other than nonsense.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *