7/6/2014 8:36 P.M. ET
Slugging first baseman Rizzo up for Final Vote
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo needs your vote.
The Cubs' first baseman is one of five players up for the 2014 All-Star Game Final Vote, competing for a spot on the National League team with the Rockies' Justin Morneau, the Nationals' Anthony Rendon, the Marlins' Casey McGehee, and the Braves' Justin Upton.
Rizzo, 24, leads all NL first basemen with 17 home runs and was tied for the league lead with 14 homers since April 30. He ranked first among NL first basemen in walks (50), was tied for first with 16 go-ahead RBIs and fourth with an .871 OPS. Overall, he was batting .276 with 13 doubles, one triple and 45 RBIs in 85 games.
Fans began voting to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian immediately following the announcement of each league's 34-man roster on Sunday night. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League until the winners will be announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 3 p.m. CT.
The Cubs and Tigers are joining forces to encourage fans to #VoteRizzo and #PickRick for Rizzo and Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello. Fans can vote for Rizzo at www.cubs.com/vote and vote for Porcello at www.tigers.com/vote. Or, they can text "N4" for Rizzo or "A3" for Porcello to 89269 in the United States. Standard message and data rates may apply. Mobile voting is also available in Canada by texting the player codes to 101010.
"It's an honor to come down to the wire like this, but I'm sure that the other four players are well deserving as well," Rizzo said Sunday in Washington after the Cubs' game against the Nationals. "It'll be fun."
Here are five reasons why Rizzo should win the NL Final Vote and a spot on the NL All-Star Game roster:
1. He can hit left-handed pitchers. Rizzo actually has a better overall average against southpaws than right-handed pitchers, hitting .284 against lefties this year. That's a huge improvement over his .189 average last year against left-handers.
2. He can beat the shift. Teams have tried to stop Rizzo by using a severe defensive shift, but he isn't afraid to drop a bunt if necessary, although usually he just gets a knock over the defenders. Rizzo can use all fields, and the majority of his hits go to center field.
3. He is solid defensively. Rizzo isn't afraid to go all out to make a defensive play. Remember his dive behind the rolled-up tarp at Wrigley Field to catch a foul ball last year? He has saved more than a few throws, doing the splits if needed.
4. He can deliver in the clutch. Of Rizzo's 11 homers since May 8, nine have given the Cubs the lead and one has tied the game. He's batting .277 with runners on base.
5. It'd be a reward for all he's dealt with. Only 24, Rizzo has had to overcome a lot. In 2008, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, battled cancer, and beat it. He has created a foundation to raise money to help kids, and hosts a walk-a-thon in his hometown of Parkland, Fla., plus a celebrity chef cook-off fundraiser in Chicago. He makes frequent visits, unannounced and not publicized, to help pick up the spirits of kids in the hospital.
"He's been through a lot in his life -- he beat cancer at a young age, bounced back from that," said Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. "I'll never forget that he hit a double in his first at-bat back on the field against a rehabbing big leaguer [after cancer].
"He's been traded twice, went through a tough couple months in the big leagues, bounced back," Epstein said. "He's already overcome so much and deserves to be where he is. I hope he's rewarded for it."
In addition to the web, fans can use their mobile phones to cast votes via the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text the choice to 89269. Example: Text "N4" to vote for Rizzo. Standard message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.
For the third consecutive year, the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote will include social balloting participation, as Twitter support from the 10 candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag (#VoteRizzo) will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners. Fans will be able to follow @MLB for the latest standings updates over the course of the entire four-day voting period.
Rizzo said he'll accommodate the fans to get more votes.
"I'll sign a few more autographs to get voted in, for sure," he said.
If Rizzo is elected, he'll join Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro and former teammate Jeff Samardzija, who both were selected by the players to the NL team.
"Congratulations to Starlin because he came in with a mission and obviously to this point it's really working well, especially hitting fourth, which he hasn't done a lot," Rizzo said. "So [I'm] really, really happy for him, especially the way he's played shortstop. ... We just come in and do our work. We have a great group of guys around us and, like we say, it's not just me and him. It's the other 23 guys too that help out every day. And it's a good team."
And the voting doesn't end with the Final Vote. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 support MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
"Here's a young man who has significant skill set," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Rizzo. "He's got power. He's continued to develop his ability to grind out at-bats. He's showing this year an adjustment to lefties, so there are a lot of components to his game that are really good."
It's time to Vote for Rizzo.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.