Anthony Rizzo is a member of the most exclusive 30-30 Club in MLB history.
In seven big league seasons, the Chicago Cubs’ left-handed slugger has collected over 1,000 hits and belted nearly 200 home runs while compiling a .853 OPS. A three-time All-Star, Rizzo has finished in the top ten in the NL in On-Base Percentage [OBP] in each of the past five seasons. In each year since 2015, the hard-hitting first baseman has posted top ten NL finishes in homers and RBI.
In 2015, Anthony Rizzo made his second straight All-Star team and competed in the Home Run Derby.
That September, he hit his 100th career homer and collected his 300th RBI in the same game. Rizzo was hit by pitch 30 times in 2015, joining Don Baylor as the only two players in major league history to hit 30 homers and get hit by pitch 30 times in the same season.
Rizzo had a monster 2016. The NL’s starting first baseman in the All-Star Game, he won a Gold Glove [voted on by players and managers] and a Platinum Glove [fan vote]. Rizzo also earned a Silver Slugger Award as the top-hitting first baseman in the league. He became the first lefty in Cubs history to hit over 40 doubles and 30 home runs in the same season and led Chicago to its first NL pennant in over seven decades. In 17 postseason games, Rizzo scored eleven runs and tallied 18 hits. Playing with infectious enthusiasm, he led the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908, ending the longest world championship drought in North American professional sports history. Playing in all seven games of the World Series, he batted .360, collected nine hits, and drove in five runs while playing stellar defense.
After the power-hitting Rizzo was inserted into the leadoff spot in June 2017, he ignited the stagnant Cubs’ season. He broke a 50-year-old MLB record by reaching base safely to lead off seven straight games and went 12-for-28 [.430] with ten RBI during the streak. In September, he joined Hack Wilson, Billy Williams and Sammy Sosa as the only Cubs ever to hit at least 30 home runs, 30 doubles and drive in 100 runs in three or more seasons while leading Chicago to its second straight NL Central title
Born in Fort Lauderdale on August 8, 1989 – one day before teammate and fellow 2007 draftee Jason Hayward – Anthony Vincent Rizzo is the younger of John and Laurie’s two sons. As Italian-Americans of Sicilian descent [Anthony chose to play for Italy in the 2013 World Baseball Classic], the Rizzo boys are thick and strong. At 6’3” and 240, Anthony is the runt of the litter. John Jr., who was a four-year starter at offensive tackle for Florida Atlantic University, stands 6’4” and weighs 300.
Tony grew up in Parkland, Florida, about 45 miles north of Miami. He attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, graduating in 2007. Eleven years later, the school became the site of the deadliest high school shooting in history. On Valentine’s Day 2018, a lone gunman killed 17 students and staff members and injured 17 others. Following the tragedy, Rizzo left spring training and returned to his former high school, where he spoke at a vigil honoring the victims.
The Perfect Game National Showcase is the most prestigious event in amateur baseball. Since its inception in 2001, more than 300 participants have played in the big leagues. In 2017, 37 of the 75 players taken in the first two rounds of the MLB Draft attended a National Showcase. In June 2006, Rizzo participated in the showcase as a rising high school senior. “Rizzo can punish a baseball,” wrote a Perfect Game scout that summer. “He stays behind the ball, driving it with power.” The scout went on to describe Rizzo as “a bruiser with a bat in his hands,” saying of the then-215-pound prospect, “With Rizzo it’s pretty simple. Stick him in the middle of the lineup and let him produce.”
Anthony Rizzo had just graduated high school when the Boston Red Sox took him in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB amateur draft.
The draft was rich in talent, with future stars David Price, Mike Moustakas, Madison Bumgarner, Josh Donaldson and Hayward going in the first round. When Boston offered a $325,000 signing bonus, Rizzo scrapped his plans to follow his brother to FAU, reporting instead to the BoSox affiliate in the rookie Gulf Coast League.
Rizzo started the 2008 season on fire, collecting 31 hits in 21 games while batting .373 with a .402 OBP for the Single-A Greenville Drive. In April, his ankles started swelling and he gained 15 pounds. After visiting a doctor in South Carolina, the family called Theo Epstein, the Red Sox general manager, who said the Rizzos needed to get to Boston. A couple of days later, Tony Rizzo was diagnosed with limited state classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The 18-year-old had cancer and began undergoing chemotherapy treatment immediately. This was not the family’s first encounter with this insidious disease. John Rizzo lost his mother to breast cancer when he was in eighth grade, and his mother-in-law was battling breast cancer at the time Anthony was diagnosed.
In late summer 2008, Rizzo learned that his cancer was in remission. That November, he was declared cancer-free, and returned to baseball.
A top Boston prospect, Rizzo was traded to the San Diego Padres after the 2010 season for Gold Glove first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Rizzo started 2011 in Triple-A Tucson, where he hit .452 with six homers and 24 RBI in his first 15 games. In June, he became the most celebrated Padres call-up since Roberto Alomar in 1988. By late July, the 21-year-old was back in Tucson. After settling in, Anthony Rizzo finished the 2011 AAA season with 34 doubles, 26 homers and 101 RBI. “He had one of the best seasons I’ve ever seen by a minor league player, and the fans loved him,” Tucson Padres GM Mike Feder said. “You could just see a buzz in the stadium when he came to bat, and that’s pretty rare in a minor league player.”
In January 2012, Rizzo was traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na. After splitting the 2012 season between the big-league club and the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in Iowa, the strapping southpaw became Chicago’s regular first baseman in 2013. In his first full season, Rizzo clouted 23 home runs, hit 40 doubles, and drove in 80 runs.
Anthony Rizzo has continued to improve as a hitter. In 2018, he cut his strikeouts down to a career-low 80 [Rizzo whiffed 127 times in 2013] and posted his fourth-straight season with more than 100 RBI. And he has continued to grow as a man. Generous and affable, Rizzo was named recipient of the 2017 Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to the MLB player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and contribution to his team. Established in 2012, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation has benefitted children’s cancer research. To date, his foundation has donated over $4 million to the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.