Yankees’ veteran infielder bouncing back after a tough start to season

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees, aaron judge, anthony rizzo
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees clinched a 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday evening, largely thanks to a stellar performance from veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo was instrumental in the win, delivering two key hits and two RBIs across four at-bats. His contributions included a single to left field in the fourth inning that drove Aaron Judge home and a 392-foot solo homer to right centerfield in the ninth inning.

Rizzo’s efforts not only secured the win but also helped the Yankees stay close in the American League East race, just 0.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. The team currently boasts the third-best winning percentage in the league, trailing only the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Veterans Leading the Charge for the Yankees

The Yankees’ veteran players, particularly Judge and Rizzo, are finding their form at a crucial time. Rizzo, who is on a one-year deal with a club option for 2025 valued at $20 million, is currently batting .265/.337/.435 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in 39 games. His performance translates to a 125 wRC+, indicating he’s performing 25% better than the average MLB player this season.

MLB: New York Yankees at Milwaukee Brewers, anthony rizzo
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Manager Aaron Boone praised Rizzo’s impact, especially his ability to rise to the occasion in crucial games. “He’s Anthony Rizzo. That’s the best I can say it. Starting to get it going a little bit, warming up. I feel like he’s putting together a lot of really good at-bats,” Boone commented.

Despite a slow start to the season, Rizzo has been exceptional in the past 15 days, hitting .313 with a .389 OBP and .993 OPS, including four homers and 11 RBIs in 48 at-bats. This resurgence is reminiscent of his peak performance levels, particularly important after ending the previous season with concussion symptoms.

Defensively, Rizzo has played 344.2 innings this season, maintaining a .990 fielding percentage with solid advanced defensive metrics. As he regains his form, Rizzo has become an indispensable part of the Yankees’ lineup, which has been crucial given some inconsistencies in the heart of the order.

While Giancarlo Stanton displays typical volatility and Gleyber Torres has had a challenging start to the season, the team remains hopeful for improvements. Torres is currently batting just .209 with a .293 OBP and a 67 wRC+, but there is still plenty of season left for a turnaround.

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