New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has made a few bad decisions over the years. OK, maybe more than a few. However, this past off-season, he knocked it out of the park with many of his choices.
Figuring out what to do at first base was one of the more intriguing ones that offered extreme upside. Cashman was considering trading for Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson before he was sent to the Atlanta Braves. Freddie Freeman, coming off a World Series title, was a serious target for the Yankees in March, but negotiations fell by the wayside, leaving one obvious option.
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The return of Anthony Rizzo:
Former Cubs star Anthony Rizzo was the last first baseman on the market, and Cashman didn’t hesitate to retain him on a two-year contract worth $32 million. Rizzo has the ability to opt out after the 2022 season, but after this year’s success, that seems like an unlikely scenario.
Rizzo has been a catalyst for the Yankees’ success this season, hitting .225 with a 34% on-base rate and .513 slugging percentage. He’s already hit 22 homers over 76 games this season, matching his 2021 total over 141 games. He’s well on his way to smashing his personal record of 32 homers, with the potential to breach 40 at this pace.
Anthony hosts a 17.8% strikeout rate, the highest since his 2014 season with Chicago. He’s still walking at 11.3%, which has benefited him tremendously with his on-base percentage. Looking at his hard-hit metrics, he hosts a 40.7% hard-hit rate, a career-best 12% barrel rate, and 17.6° of launch angle.
His stats point to an obvious increase in power and home run potential. Featuring a 48.8% flyball percentage, 21% of those hits are turning into home runs, which is phenomenal. Defensively, he’s also been solid, earning a .993 fielding percentage with four errors over 618 innings this season. While he has a few more errors than usual, he’s been fantastic scooping the ball out of the dirt on short throws.
One of Rizzo’s more underrated statistics is his chemistry with catcher José Treviño. The pair have picked off multiple runners at first base on quick throws behind the batter. Those uncategorized plays are added value to Rizzo’s defensive qualities.
So far, it seems as if the Yankees are getting maximum value out of Rizzo at $16 million per season.