Yankees are facing a potential big change at first base

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees had high hopes for Anthony Rizzo this season, anticipating a strong comeback following a year marred by concussion symptoms. However, Rizzo’s performance has fallen short of expectations, with the first baseman experiencing the most challenging season of his career.

Despite the Yankees producing a robust 10 runs in a recent game, Rizzo struggled significantly, going 0-for-5 and failing to make substantial contact at the plate.

Evaluating Rizzo’s Future with the Yankees

Rizzo’s current season statistics are alarming, with a batting average of .220, an on-base percentage of .279, and a slugging percentage of .332. He has managed only seven home runs and 25 RBIs across the season, paired with a 16.9% strikeout rate and a meager 5.5% walk rate. His weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 79 indicates that he is performing 21% worse than the average MLB player, contributing to a negative WAR of -0.5.

Jun 6, 2024; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo (48) reacts after being hit by a foul ball during the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

These disappointing figures are compounded by his career-low metrics in several key areas, including a hard-hit rate of 33.2%, a barrel rate of 4.4%, and an average exit velocity of 86.3 mph.

With the trade deadline approaching, the Yankees are faced with a tough decision regarding Rizzo’s role on the team. His offensive output, particularly with runners in scoring position, has been so lacking that it poses a liability to the team’s overall performance — he’s hitting .211/.246/.368.

As the Yankees aim for postseason success, they cannot afford to carry underperforming players. With DJ LeMahieu showing defensive prowess and some offensive improvement since returning from injury, the Yankees have options.

General Manager Brian Cashman might consider acquiring a third baseman, allowing LeMahieu to continue at first base, which could relegate Rizzo to a depth role. This strategic adjustment could bolster the Yankees’ lineup and enhance their chances of competing for a World Series title, underscoring the urgency of addressing Rizzo’s current inefficiencies.

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