The Yankees might face a major issue at 1st base

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees‘ infield dynamics have been tumultuous in recent weeks, with a significant incident occurring during a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. First baseman Anthony Rizzo experienced a concerning injury that could impact the team’s lineup moving forward.

Yankees Infield Challenges and Rizzo’s Injury Update

During Sunday night’s game, Anthony Rizzo collided with the player covering first base on a routine grounder, resulting in a painful fall on his right hand. The immediate aftermath saw Rizzo in visible distress, clutching his hand before being promptly removed from the game for medical evaluation.

Early tests were somewhat reassuring, suggesting that no bones were broken; however, it is suspected that Rizzo may have sustained a sprain. This injury leaves the Yankees with a gap at first base, potentially requiring them to explore internal or external replacement options.

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Currently, the Yankees could utilize DJ LeMahieu or Oswaldo Cabrera to fill the first base role. However, given the circumstances, the team might consider promoting Ben Rice, a promising young prospect from their farm system. Rice, primarily a first baseman with some catching experience, has been impressive in the minors this year.

In Double-A, he posted a .261 average with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs over 49 games. His performance has even improved since moving up to Triple-A, where he boasts a .333 average with three home runs, 10 RBIs, and an outstanding 172 wRC+ in just a few games.

Given Rice’s compelling offensive output, he presents a viable option to take over first base, especially when compared to Rizzo’s current season struggles.

Rizzo, a 34-year-old lefty who is coming off a concussion in 2023, is undergoing one of his least productive seasons to date. His batting average sits at .223 with a .289 on-base percentage and a career-low .341 slugging percentage, which includes eight home runs and 28 RBIs. With a 16.5% strikeout rate and a mere 6.5% walk rate, his wRC+ of 84 signifies that he is performing 16% below the average MLB player this season. His performance with runners in scoring position has also been lackluster, further highlighting the need for a potential offensive boost from someone like Rice.

While Rizzo’s injury is undoubtedly a setback for the Yankees, the situation might inadvertently accelerate necessary adjustments to their batting lineup. Although Rizzo remains a valued member of the team, particularly for his experience and leadership in the clubhouse, the Yankees must also consider the practical aspects of maintaining competitive performance.

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