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Anthony Rizzo’s 2013 stats are cause for hope, doubt

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Updated: March 20, 2014 6:50AM

MESA, Ariz. — Is there any reason to believe Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will be a more productive hitter in 2014?

He did drive in 80 runs last season and finished fifth in the National League in doubles (40) and sixth in walks (76). But he had extended slumps, hit just .233 overall and had the second-worst average with runners in scoring position (.191) in the majors among players with qualifying at-bats.

Rizzo expects more this season, ‘‘just from a more comfortable, confidence standpoint,’’ he said Tuesday. ‘‘I mean, I’m ready to go. I feel strong. I feel stronger than ever have.’’

The case has been made that Rizzo’s numbers suffered from ‘‘bad luck,’’ measured by his .258 average on balls he put in play last season (BABIP), well below the average of about .300. He ranked 61st of the 64 National Leaguers with qualifying at-bats listed by

It’s not clear whether that had more to do with luck or with scouting and shifts that teams employed as his hitting data grew.

All Rizzo knows is, ‘‘You hit the ball well — that’s all you can do. That’s really all you can control. And the one thing that can’t affect me is if I hit it well and someone makes a nice play. It can’t affect my next at-bat or my next at-bat after that.’’

On the other hand, Rizzo’s numbers declined almost across the board as the season progressed last year.

‘‘I just want to stay with the process,’’ he said. ‘‘The more at-bats I get, the better I’m going to get. That usually goes for everyone. Just take it one day at a time and keep your head down.’’

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