Yankees’ veteran infielder starting to heat up after slow start

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

The first few weeks of the Yankees‘ season didn’t start as Anthony Rizzo had hoped. He began with a 91 wRC+ and hit only .243 with a .321 OBP over 78 plate appearances. However, Rizzo was still shaking off the rust from an early end to his 2023 season due to concussion symptoms. Fortunately, the fogginess has passed, and he is now finding his groove.

Anthony Rizzo’s Early-Season Struggles and Recent Improvements

Over 35 games, Rizzo is batting .263/.329/.429, contributing six homers, 20 RBIs, a 21.2% strikeout rate, and a 6.2% walk rate, with a 122 wRC+. In the past two weeks alone, over 72 plate appearances, he’s been electrifying, hitting .269 with a .522 slugging rate and a 142 wRC+ while blasting five home runs. His power has returned, bringing significant value to the heart of the Yankees’ lineup.

His 34.3% hard-hit rate and 5.9% barrel rate have been steadily increasing. On Sunday, the Yankees gave Rizzo a well-deserved day off after the return of Jon Berti, allowing the first baseman to recuperate.

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

The Yankees Needed This Version of Rizzo

The 34-year-old lefty earns $20 million this season and has a club option at the same value for 2025. While the Yankees are likely to move on, given that prospect Ben Rice is excelling in AA and positioning himself for a future role, Rizzo still offers tangible value and veteran leadership in the lineup.

Defensively, he’s logged 308.2 innings, posting one defensive run saved, -1 out above average, and a .989 fielding percentage. After a slow start, Rizzo has regained his usual consistency, contributing 0.4 WAR thus far. If he maintains his current trajectory, he should finish the season with 1.8 WAR, solidifying his worth.

His ongoing contributions remain crucial, especially with Giancarlo Stanton still struggling and representing a liability in the middle of the lineup.

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