The 2023 season has proven to be challenging for the New York Yankees thus far. They managed to halt a four-game losing streak on Tuesday with a victory over the Cleveland Guardians. However, the reality is that they have struggled with depth issues and are currently at the bottom of the AL East standings with a 16-15 record.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo has played a significant role in many of those victories. He has been the best and most consistent position player on the Yankees this year, ranking as one of the most valuable players alongside ace Gerrit Cole.
During times when several Yankees sluggers and top producers – most notably Aaron Judge – are injured, Rizzo has stepped up with an impressive .282/.370/.464 line, five home runs, and a 137 wRC+. His 0.9 fWAR is tied for first among position players on the team, along with Judge and rookie Anthony Volpe.
The shift restrictions have greatly benefited Rizzo’s overall offensive performance. In previous years, he lost many hits to the shift, but now some of those are finding their way through.
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The Yankees have been delighted with Rizzo’s production.
However, Rizzo’s excellence is not solely a result of opposing defensive alignments. His 137 wRC+ is not significantly higher than the 132 he posted last season, so 2023 serves as a confirmation that the left-handed-hitting slugger is thriving even as he approaches his 34th birthday in the summer.
While playing with a subpar Yankees lineup, Rizzo has scored 14 runs and driven in another 14 this year. He has consistently provided power and on-base ability even when the circumstances around him have been less than ideal.
If the Yankees are going to turn things around, Rizzo will undoubtedly be at the heart of it. His reliability and overall consistency have certainly been welcome developments for the organization.