Anthony Rizzo’s prolonged slump hints at the possible role of the neck issue

Anthony Rizzo of the New York Yankees ducks after being hit by a ball at Citi Field on June 14, 2023.

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Aaron Judge’s absence is not the sole factor contributing to the Yankees’ lineup shortcomings. Despite playing in eight out of the nine games following Judge’s toe injury, Anthony Rizzo has managed to accumulate just two hits in total.

This has given rise to concerns among Yankees fans that Anthony Rizzo’s slump is not merely mental. Many believe there may be an underlying physical issue linked to his neck injury suffered earlier preventing his hitting prowess.

All veterans face a slump, but Anthony Rizzo’s draws attention

The Yankees’ current situation is a clear call for their remaining veteran players, who earn high salaries, to step up and lead the team. Following the injury of the team’s captain, Josh Donaldson’s batting average has plummeted to .091. Giancarlo Stanton‘s performance hasn’t shown much improvement, as he’s currently batting a mere .115.

DJ LeMahieu has struggled at the plate, recording a batting average of .185 along with seven strikeouts and a lone walk. Gleyber Torres has been enduring a rough patch, with a batting average of just .172. But, among the players struggling, Anthony Rizzo has faced the most significant slump.

Are Anthony Rizzo and the seasoned members of the Yankees roster making efforts to compensate excessively for the absence of their star player? Perhaps, this brings them under pressure.

Anthony Rizzo expressed that attempting to emulate someone else would not be beneficial. He made these comments after experiencing an 0-for-3 performance with a hit-by-pitch in Wednesday’s 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Mets. According to Anthony Rizzo, he doesn’t believe that the players are consciously attempting to do too much.

“Trying to be someone else is not going to do any good,” Anthony Rizzo told after losing the game to the Mets. “I don’t think subconsciously guys are trying to do too much.”

Even before Judge sustained a contusion and ligament sprain in his right big toe on June 3 in Los Angeles, the first baseman had already been struggling with a slump. Throughout the entire month, Anthony Rizzo’s performance has been underwhelming, with a record of 2 hits out of 37 attempts, resulting in a mere .054 batting average. Furthermore, he hasn’t been able to achieve any extra-base hits during this period.

On Tuesday, Anthony Rizzo ended his career-worst 0-for-24 dry spell by hitting a single into left field. However, the single he achieved did not seem to resolve the issue, as he failed to secure a hit in six subsequent at-bats, including three strikeouts.

It can’t be psychological alone

In the event that the issue is not solely psychological, it might be attributed to a physical factor. The Yankees have consistently stated that Anthony Rizzo is in good condition, despite his absence during a late-May series in Seattle due to a stiff neck.

He had the condition after the Yankees first baseman collided with the Mariners’ Fernando Tatis on May 27 during a pickoff play at first base, Anthony Rizzo was sidelined for three games. Then, manager Aaron Boone reassured that the first baseman’s neck is in good condition.

The manager stated this week that Anthony Rizzo’s swing is slightly off. He mentioned that it’s common for players to experience such periods during the season, but he expressed optimism that the player would overcome it and find a solution.

Anthony Rizzo is helped on the field after getting injured during the Yankees’ win over the Padres.
Robert Sabo/ NYP

However, Anthony Rizzo is a distinctive hitter, making it difficult for the Yankees manager to fully comprehend his approach. He acknowledged that his performance has been consistently impressive over a significant period of time.

“He’s a unique hitter, so it’s hard for me to relate to what he does. But he obviously does it really well and has for a long, long time.”

But Anthony Rizzo’s slump continues at an inconvenient time. In the absence of Judge, the Yankees’ offensive output has been limited to 31 runs across nine games, averaging 3.4 runs per game, prior to commencing a series in Boston on Friday.

The Yankees’ pitching, particularly their bullpen, has been instrumental in keeping the team competitive. However, despite their efforts, the Yankees find themselves trailing the Rays by a margin of nine games in the AL East. It is worth noting that the Yankees have not officially disclosed the duration of Judge’s absence.

Prior to this decline, Anthony Rizzo was regarded as the Yankees’ most dependable player and arguably held the highest value within the team. Before he was struck by Tatis’ hip, the first baseman boasted impressive numbers with a .304 batting average and a .880 OPS. His outstanding performance had positioned him as a strong contender for the All-Star team.

After a span of ten games, Anthony Rizzo’s batting average has significantly dropped to .266, accompanied by a decline in his OPS to .779. On Wednesday, his most notable contribution at the plate was being hit by a pitch in the seventh inning, marking the 209th time he has been hit throughout his career. However, aside from that incident, he was unable to deliver positive results with his other at-bats.

During the ninth inning of a tied game, Anthony Rizzo faced a sequence of four knuckle curves delivered by David Robertson. He swung and missed at the last knuckle curve, resulting in his 10th strikeout in as many games this month.

Anthony Rizzo has failed to hit a home run throughout the entire month, extending his streak to 17 consecutive games without a long ball. In the absence of Judge and facing a subsequent power shortage, the Yankees are in dire need of timely hits. Unfortunately, they failed to deliver on Wednesday, going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

Anthony Rizzo admitted that the team’s failures in clutch situations could be overcome by putting themselves in those positions more frequently. According to him, the more opportunities they have in those crucial moments, the greater their chances of long-term success. The first baseman emphasized the importance of continuously getting players in those situations and persevering in their efforts.

Anthony Rizzo conveyed the importance of maintaining composure and not attempting to achieve multiple hits in a single at-bat. He emphasized the need to stay focused and resilient in the game, while also acknowledging the necessity of enduring challenging periods.

There are two potential factors at play: the neck issue or a period of the slump. It’s possible that the Yankees are experiencing the weight of expectations without their star player.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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3 thoughts on “Anthony Rizzo’s prolonged slump hints at the possible role of the neck issue

  1. Rizzo is in a slump due essentially to his failure to readjust his stance to match his stubborn slow- aging reality. Rizzo crowds the plate, quickly widens leg, and eats low, high, basket inside pitches of any sort, slider, cutter, curve, fastball. Once had a super fast swing that compensated his limited stretch. Not anymore. The inside pitches he misses or grounds to 1B, 2B are many. Hes simply much less sharp eye and abit slower swing. Right now, top it off with frustration and pressur. Rizzo needs our prayers.

  2. In July last year, I started on ALS/MND disease TREATMENT PROTOCOL from Natural Herbs Centre (ww w. Naturalherbscentre. com). One month into the treatment, I made a significant recovery. After I completed the recommended treatment, almost all my symptoms were gone, great improvement with my movement and balance. Its been a year, life has been amazing

  3. He had the condition after the Yankees first baseman collided with the Mariners’ Fernando Tatis on…

    Tatis is a Padre, not a Mariner.

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