The New York Yankees face an imminent challenge, with starting first baseman Anthony Rizzo diagnosed with a concussion and set to be off the field for several weeks. Rizzo’s performance during the 2023 season has been inconsistent, but his recent diagnosis, coming 2.5 months post-injury, adds to the team’s worries.
Rizzo’s Season Performance: A Concussion Aftermath?
Rizzo started the season on a high, hitting .283 with a .374 OBP in April and a remarkable .327 average with a .382 OBP in May. However, a potentially season-altering event occurred when he suffered a head injury due to Fernando Tatís Jr.’s leg.
Post this incident, Rizzo’s performance nosedived in June, with him hitting only .173 with a .311 OBP. His season averages have further deteriorated since, now standing at .244 with a .328 OBP and a career-low 99 wRC+.
Interestingly, despite Rizzo clearing all concussion protocol tests, the Yankees’ medical team failed to detect his symptoms. Rizzo, who initially attributed his fatigue to the regular season, sensed something amiss following five consecutive strikeouts against the Baltimore Orioles this past Sunday.
Rizzo explained his unusual experience, stating, “The way I kind of describe it, you go to bed sober and you wake up a little hungover. When that happens, that doesn’t seem normal.”
- Yankees’ $162 million pitcher is getting ready to disappear after season concludes
- Yankees’ former outfielder is dominating with new team
- Should the Yankees trade one of their most valuable infielders?
Filling in the Gap: Bauers and LeMahieu
With Rizzo’s temporary absence, the Yankees are turning to Jake Bauers and DJ LeMahieu to carry the burden. Bauers, who played first base for the Yankees on Wednesday, is hitting .228 with a .307 OBP this season, including nine homers, 22 RBIs, and a 116 wRC+.
LeMahieu, on the other hand, has been inconsistent this season at 35 years old. The veteran infielder is hitting .232 with a .305 OBP and an 86 wRC+. With Rizzo’s return timeline uncertain, especially given his prolonged undetected symptoms, Bauers and LeMahieu will have a significant role to play.
The diagnosis, albeit alarming, offers an explanation for Rizzo’s recent slump. The Yankees remain optimistic about his return to form later in the season or next year. Despite the unforeseen setback, they are prepared to navigate through the rest of the season with promising alternatives in place.