The draw in Anthony Rizzo is his very impressive power, but a career .174 ISO in over 1200 plate appearances is at least somewhat worrisome when you are looking to draft Rizzo and hoping the power shows at the MLB level.
At the end of last season, J.P. Breen covered Rizzo and what to make of him. Breen did a great job of detailing the struggles Rizzo had against lefties and the fact that he had previously been fine against southpaws. With a 115 wRC+ against righties and a 72 wRC+ against lefties, any improvement at all against lefties would be a huge help to his fantasy value.
At the end of the article J.P. mentions that Rizzo could represent a bargain on draft day, but it appears that many are still banking on the upside of Rizzo rather than his Major League performance to date. Various places have Rizzo between 12-15 at first base, which to me seems a bit high. Yes there is upside of him potentially going off for 30+ homers with a solid on base percentage which would hopefully lead to a lot of run production, but a lot of that looks like hope more than betting on a likely scenario.
ZiPS projects Rizzo at 27 home runs with a .336 OBP over 655 plate appearances, along with his ISO bumping up over the .200 mark. That’s definitely better than last season, but not markedly so. A healthy 27 home runs would have ranked eighth last year among first basemen, but a good deal of his peers had higher than .340 OBP’s. Rizzo’s strikeout rate was very low so there’s definitely an opportunity for his average and OBP to rise, but if I’m looking at a home run dependent first baseman with a low-ish OBP I’d much rather look at Adam Dunn than splurge earlier than hoped on a sleeper from past years who has yet to make his mark.
Rizzo is definitely a big risk vs. reward type player, but my problem is recognizing how likely he would be to reach the level that would make him a big reward at around 100 ADP. It’s definitely possible he goes for 30 and a .350 OBP as Steamer projects, but with a lackluster lineup around him there’s reasons to be pessimistic about him reaching the type of run production levels you would want with those types of numbers.
I like Rizzo and still think he is a really good player to own in long term leagues, but I do struggle with drafting him over surer things in redraft formats. At first base I like to get sure things, and take my risks at lesser producing positions. If you think this way, then avoid Rizzo unless he drops in your league.
Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.