It is an exciting time to be a Chicago Cubs fan right now. The Cubs have the top farm system in the league, a premier manager at the helm, and slowly but surely the Wrigley Field renovations are in motion. At the core of the resurgence is first basemen Anthony Rizzo. When the Cubs take the field Sunday night, Rizzo will begin his third full-time season in Chicago and fifth overall. Each year he has progressed with huge strides, and has blossomed into a star and the face of the Cubs. In 2015, Rizzo just may elevate into MVP considerations as well.

Last year, Rizzo was named an All-Star for the first time, and finished with 32 home runs, which was good for second in the National League. Rizzo’s average, slugging, and OPS were also career highs as well. But the element that really elevated Rizzo’s development was his splits against left hand pitchers. He went from hitting .189 against lefties in 2013 to an even .300 last season. With all of the spring training talk surrounding the young prospects such as Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler, Rizzo is the key bat in the middle of the order for Chicago. However, do not be surprised if the versatile Rizzo hits leadoff sometime for Joe Maddon‘s squad as he did in a recent Spring Training game just to change things up a bit.

Above the numbers, Rizzo is also evolving into one of the young faces of the game. He is on the cover of a video game, has appeared on MTV, and does great work within the community with his charity. Between the white lines, Rizzo has the fire and passion to be a team leader for years to come. Last season, he did not shy away from a confrontation with Aroldis Chapman and the entire Cincinnati Reds team. Rizzo also has the confidence to boldly predict that the Cubs will win the Central Division this season, and one day even the World Series.

On Opening Night, Rizzo will lead the new-look Cubs against the rival St. Louis Cardinals. With the excitement and energy that will surround this team all season long, Rizzo will likely be at the core of the Cubs’ charge. The 25-year old star has all of the qualities and intangibles to be a leader and guide this team to new heights. While Wrigley Field continues to be made over, Chicago already has their centerpiece in place. After finishing 10th in MVP voting a season ago, look for Rizzo to contend even more in 2015 for the NL’s top individual award.

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