Yankees getting instant impact from veteran first baseman after injury spell

Alexander Wilson
anthony rizzo, yankees

The New York Yankees have been patiently waiting for the return of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who has missed most of September after landing on the injured list with a back injury.

Rizzo last played on August 30, hitting home runs in consecutive games before going down, putting the Yankees in a tough spot where they need to supplement deficiency.

In Rizzo’s absence, the Yankees primarily relied on Marwin Gonzalez, who was struck in the head when Milwaukee’s catcher was attempting to throw the ball back to the pitcher. Marwin left the game prematurely, but thankfully for the Yankees, Rizzo returned on Sunday.

The 33-year-old infielder is hitting .229 on the season with a 34% on-base rate, including 31 homers and 72 RBIs over 495 plate appearances. He has an 18.8% strikeout rate and 11.1% walk rate, posting a 139 wRC+. This indicates he’s 39% better than the average MLB player.

The Yankees needed the added offense:

The Yankees have sorely missed Rizzo’s offensive contributions, immediately feeling his impact in the 12–8 win over Milwaukee on Sunday. He contributed three hits over six at-bats, including a homer and an RBI.

The expectation was that Rizzo would return at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, but making a comeback and immediately contributing is exactly what the Bombers hoped for. They are still patiently waiting for the return of DJ LeMahieu, who is normally the fill-in first baseman when Rizzo is unable to go.

Defensively, the Italian Stallion hosts a .996 fielding percentage with four errors over 928.1 innings played. While the stats indicate he represents a -3 defensive runs saved above average mark, he’s been fantastic at plucking balls out of the dirt on poor throws. There are some stats that don’t play a part in his efficiency ratings, but Rizzo has been a consistent complement to the team on both sides of the ball.

In fact, with runners in scoring position, Rizzo is hitting .223 with a 34.8% on-base rate. He’s hit nine homers with 43 RBIs and 22 strikeouts over 94 at-bats. Overall, he’s been efficient in getting on base when needed.

Looking at his numbers with runners on first base, he’s hitting .276 with a 38.2% on-base rate. Getting him back is a huge benefit ahead of the playoffs, in which the Yankees need to begin stringing together consistent performances.