Anthony Rizzo's production on the rise

August, 1, 2013
8/01/13
12:45
AM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The 2013 season has had many twists and turns for Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Rizzo
Brian D. Kersey/Getty ImagesAnthony Rizzo is the first Cubs player to have 31 doubles before August since Derrek Lee in 2005.
After signing a seven-year $44 million deal earlier this season, Rizzo has struggled to stabilize his approach at the plate. Judging by his last five games, however, it appears the 23-year-old may be turning the corner on what has been a somewhat frustrating season. Rizzo had a double and a two-run home run in the Cubs' 6-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.

"This has been an ever-going process," Rizzo said. "You just have to show up every day and prepare. I just try to grind the at-bats out and go from there."

Rizzo has had quality at-bats during this recent stretch. He has seven hits and four walks in his last 18 official at-bats. After a strong May in which he hit .295, Rizzo slumped to .231 in June and .198 in July.

"I just have been hitting the ball well for a little while now," Rizzo said. "I have been putting good swings on the ball and taking the walks have been a big plus as well."

Oddly enough, Rizzo's power numbers have been excellent to this point of the season, despite a batting average hovering around .240. He ended July with 31 doubles and 15 home runs for the season. His doubles rank third in the National League.

"I want to be the full package," Rizzo said. "No one wants to just be good at one thing or the other, you want to do everything well. This is a process where you learn from what you don't do well. You just got to bust it every day."

Manager Dale Sveum has been adamant all season about the importance of Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro leading the team's offense. Both homered in Wednesday's win.

"Those are two pieces of the puzzle to drive in runs and get hits," Sveum said. "It was like us trading for a new player getting [David] DeJesus back in the lineup. He just gives you those quality at-bats and he is one guy all year that has hit with men in scoring position."

Rizzo became the first Cubs player to reach 31 doubles before August since Derrek Lee in 2005. Rizzo has 97 hits, 48 of which have gone for extra bases.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.292 14 65 58
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 32
RBIA. Rizzo 78
RA. Rizzo 89
OPSA. Rizzo .913
WJ. Arrieta 10
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 167