One of the primary reasons the New York Yankees struggled in 2023 was the loss of Anthony Rizzo, their veteran first baseman. Rizzo started the season red hot but was kneed in the head by Francisco Tatis Jr. and sustained an undiagnosed concussion. After symptoms plagued him for weeks, the Yankees finally shut him down, ending his season prematurely.
However, Rizzo is back in the lab trying to improve his game. Star slugger Aaron Judge indicated that even the veterans on the team need to continue making tweaks and improvements to help improve their World Series aspirations in 2024 and beyond. Rizzo is in the final year of a two-year, $40 million option.
The Yankees do have a club option in 2025, but the expectation is that they will save the cash and move on unless Rizzo puts together a truly phenomenal season.
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The Yankees’ Players Are Looking to Outside Help
Judge underwent a transformation years ago regarding his swing, attending the Richard Schenck School of high-level pattern hitting. He is one of the primary catalysts in helping Judge become a superstar, and Rizzo is now taking lessons to help improve his game.
Obviously, we saw the results that Judge experienced over the years, hitting .311 with a .425 OBP and .686 slugging rate during his MVP season in 2022. While it is unlikely Rizzo is able to even get close to those numbers, he might be able to run back one of his better seasons, for example in 2019.
Over 146 games, Rizzo hit .293 with a .405 OBP, .520 slugging rate, including 27 homers and 94 RBIs. He’s had some incredible seasons in the past, but his on-base percentage has dwindled, and his batting average has regressed with age.
There’s plenty of reason to believe that the 34-year-old lefty could have a vintage season in 2024, which would certainly help the Yankees’ batting order significantly. They are still expected to make improvements in free agency or via the trade market, but they need the players currently on the roster to step up since the majority of their expensive veterans failed to carry their weight in 2023.