When Anthony Rizzo wasn’t commuting with his Cub buddies to Lambeau Field from Minneapolis for Kenny Chesney concerts over the weekend, the Cubs’ first baseman played front man for his own band.
By the time he lined a single to right Monday off one of the best pitchers in baseball in Clayton Kershaw, he was 7-for-his-last-13, including three homers in three days in Minnesota – and making his manager wonder how he can be fourth in the All-Star voting at his position in the National League.
“Listen, we all know that the method is skewed a little bit. It’s not by any means foolproof,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of an online fan-voting process that already has led to MLB disqualifying millions of fraudulent votes. “It’s probably something that’s going to be addressed and changed, I’m sure.”
Meanwhile, a manager who on Monday doubted he had any other strong candidates on a team that was in playoff position entering the day can’t say enough about Rizzo.
“The guy’s got to be on the All-Star team. Let him play shortstop, I don’t care,” Maddon said after Rizzo led the Cubs to a series win over the hot Minnesota Twins. “But he’s got to be on the All-Star team.”
“I don’t know about shortstop,” Rizzo said. “But it’s somewhere I’d love to be, in Cincinnati for the All-Star Game. Stuff like that’s out of your control, out of our hands. So you just really focus on here and winning games.”
Rizzo probably will get in on the players ballot, assuming he doesn’t vault past the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt, Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez or injured Cardinal Matt Adams. He ranks in the top 10 in every major offensive category and trails only Goldschmidt at his position in OPS, at 1.003.
And if not, he’ll almost certainly make it through the league office – if only because the Cubs might need that avenue to get their mandatory one All-Star.
Even Maddon wasn’t sure if he had any other players deserving of strong consideration.
“Not as strongly as him,” Maddon said. “His year is definitely above and beyond. I’ve not seen it personally, the kind of year he’s having right now.
“Among the group on the field, of course [Kris Bryant’s] going to get some noise at third base.”
Bryant helped his cause with his first two-homer game on Monday, including one off Kershaw, to lead the Cubs to a 4-2 victory (.282, 10 homers, 42 RBIs, .869 OPS).
“No, among the pitchers, we’ve had a lot of good performances. I thought Jason [Hammel] was in the running, but obviously the last couple of outings may have knocked him out just a little bit. In the bullpen I can’t tell you for sure anybody definitely deserves to go there.
“So just being perfectly honest, I think Rizz is the one guy that should be there absolutely.”