Is Anthony Rizzo losing his 1B spot on the Yankees’ regular lineup?

Anthony Rizzo and his best friend Aaron Judge at Yankees dugout.
Michael Bennington
Thursday August 3, 2023

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The Yankees did something uncommon on Wednesday. Anthony Rizzo was not injured but he was rested and Jake Bauers took over the first base.

It’s a rarity for the Yankees to bench their regular first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, against a challenging left-handed pitcher and replace him with another junior left-handed hitter, who has primarily faced right-handed pitchers this season.

Bauers, who had a .177 batting average (3-for-17) against left-handed pitchers prior to the game, faced Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan and ended up going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the Yankees’ 7-2 victory.

On this particular day, manager Aaron Boone had planned to give Anthony Rizzo a break, leading to his absence from the lineup for the first time in two weeks. The manager cited the first baseman’s form to justify his decision.

“Rizz, especially when he’s going well, does a really good job against lefties,” Boone said.

Anthony Rizzo facing the worst slump of his career

Anthony Rizzo strikes out in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Monday, July 3, 2023, in Bronx, NY. (Corey Sipkin for the NY POST Photo/Corey Sipkin) New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles
NY POST Photo/Corey Sipkin

Anthony Rizzo’s OPS has experienced a significant decline, dropping from .880 in late May to .706. Since that time, which coincided with a collision at first base with Fernando Tatis Jr. from the Padres that affected his neck, his performance has markedly declined, making him almost unfit for play.

Despite Anthony Rizzo’s struggles during a 46-game stretch, hitting just .172 with one home run and 44 strikeouts in 169 at-bats, the Yankees chose to keep playing him.

After an impressive 4-for-4 performance on July 23, which seemed like a potential slump-busting breakout, Anthony Rizzo’s performance has been lackluster. He has hit just .138 without any extra-base hits and recorded 10 strikeouts since then.

Boone was quick to dispel fear and confirmed that Anthony Rizzo’s break would be brief, but he also admitted that he had contemplated a more extended pause, spanning multiple games, to provide the first baseman with an opportunity to reset and regroup.

Boone expressed his willingness to explore any option that could aid Anthony Rizzo in returning to his usual level of performance. Additionally, he noted observing intermittent indications that the 33-year-old slugger can break out of his current slump.

According to the Yankees manager, Anthony Rizzo’s recent performance has shown some positive signs, including a hit and a well-hit ball in the previous games. He also pointed out that despite Rizzo’s better performance against left-handed pitchers this year, he has struggled against most pitchers lately. Boone observed that Anthony Rizzo’s form has been inconsistent during this difficult stretch, with moments of promise followed by challenging outings.

anthony-rizzo-new-york-yankees
AP

Bauers’ push for a regular place on the Yankees lineup

With the exception of Aaron Judge, most of the Yankees’ offense has been struggling for quite a while, enduring tough times over the past few months. However, Jake Bauers has been a positive discovery for the team.

Before Wednesday’s game, Jake Bauers, who can play both corner outfield and first base, had an impressive .966 OPS with three home runs in his last 12 games. Most of his success came when facing right-handed pitching. In the fifth inning, there was a play at first base that Jake Bauers couldn’t handle, and Anthony Rizzo, a four-time Gold Glover, might have made the play.

Gleyber Torres fielded a ground ball hit by Rene Pinto up the middle and made a throw to first base in the dirt. Unfortunately, Jake Bauers couldn’t make the pick, but the play didn’t have much impact as Gerrit Cole managed to get out of the inning unscathed.

Boone highlighted that McClanahan had shown equal effectiveness against both left-handed and right-handed hitters. However, Bauers and catcher Ben Rortvedt were the only left-handed batters included in the Yankees starting lineup.

The manager stated that the Yankees would continue to explore different approaches to help Anthony Rizzo regain his form and expected that the rest shouldn’t be a prolonged one.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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One thought on “Is Anthony Rizzo losing his 1B spot on the Yankees’ regular lineup?

  1. Didn’t anybody notice he has been off since that collision with Tatis? Before he was great. After he was very very off. He may have post concussion symptoms. He looks lost and off balance. Sometimes these symptoms get worse over time. He needs to be examined by a neurologist, not an orthopedist.

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