Yankees push struggling first baseman down the batting order

mlb: kansas city royals at new york yankees, anthony rizzo
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are preparing to face the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night at 9:38 PM. In a bid to optimize their lineup, they’ve made a notable adjustment to their batting order. Struggling first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been moved down to the 7-hole, a spot previously occupied by Gleyber Torres.

The revised lineup positions Giancarlo Stanton back at cleanup, Alex Verdugo in the fifth slot, Torres at sixth, followed by Rizzo, Jose Trevino, and DJ LeMahieu rounding out the order in the ninth position.

Yankees Are Clearly Concerned About Rizzo’s Inefficiency

This season, the 34-year-old infielder has posted a batting average of .245 with an on-base percentage of .310 and a slugging percentage of .370. He has hit seven home runs and driven in 25 RBIs. However, Rizzo’s performance metrics have seen a decline, with a career-low hard-hit rate of 33.5% and a barrel percentage of only 5.4%. His average exit velocity has also decreased, signaling that Rizzo may be encountering physical limitations that are impacting his productivity.

MLB: New York Yankees at Milwaukee Brewers, anthony rizzo
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Shifting him further down the lineup allows the Yankees to place more reliable offensive players in critical situations. On the defensive front, Rizzo has been less effective this season, highlighted by a missed play on Tuesday that contributed to a late-game loss to the Angels. He currently holds a .992 fielding percentage over 485.2 innings, with -1 defensive run saved.

If Rizzo’s difficulties persist, the Yankees might opt out of his contract after the 2024 season and could consider either trading for a new player or promoting one of their prospects to instigate a change. Although the team has confidence in Rizzo’s ability to rebound based on his track record, continued struggles might compel them to explore other long-term solutions.

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