Anthony Rizzo steps in as the Yankees’ saving force in tough times

Anthony Rizzo of the New York Yankees.

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The Yankees honored Anthony Rizzo as AL Player of the Week for May 8-14. The first baseman, who was the major league leader in hits and runs scored during that span, delivered stability and strength to the team with his leadership and performance during a trying period.

Anthony Rizzo batted .444/.500/.815 (12 for 27) with an OPS of 1.315. His weekly OPS and batting average were both second best in the American League. He also had one double and three home homers. He also walked three times, scored 10 runs, and drove in seven. In six of the seven games the Yankees played, Anthony Rizzo reached base safely several times.

Anthony Rizzo has hit .312 with nine home runs, six doubles, and 22 RBI through 41 games this season. His confrontation of catcher Kyle Higashioka after the later made a mistake at Tropicana Field showed his leadership skills.

All three of the Yankees’ wins over the Oakland Athletics were aided by Anthony Rizzo, as were two of the four victories against the MLB’s greatest team, the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees have improved to 23-19, but still remain eight games behind the Rays in the AL East and in fourth place.

The 33-year-old and the Yankees are aiming to make up ground in their division this week, as they are into a crucial four-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Anthony Rizzo brings stability, strength to Yankees’ lineup

The Yankees had a tough start to the season due in large part to injuries, but they were four games above .500 as of Monday. From the point of view of turnaround, they should thank Anthony Rizzo, who has been like a rock for them.

Before Monday, the veteran first baseman had reached base safely in 13 consecutive games. Even though there have been a lot of changes in his surroundings, he has had a consistent and solid start in 2023.

Anthony Rizzo started for the 41st time in the Yankees’ 43rd game Monday night against the Blue Jays despite the fact that all other stars, including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Donaldson, and Harrison Bader, were forced by injuries to skip games.

On Monday at Rogers Centre before the series opener, Gerrit Cole expressed his admiration for the player, stating that Anthony Rizzo was simply a great player. The Yankees ace highlighted that the player excelled at doing all the little things right. Even if he didn’t contribute significantly in the box score, he managed to find ways to impact the game in various aspects. The player’s presence on the team provided a steady and consistent voice that the team heard every day. Anthony Rizzo was actively involved on the field, observing the way the game was played and offering his opinions on it. Cole acknowledged the player’s wisdom and mentioned that he could speak about him at length.

Given that Anthony Rizzo bats left-handed and is positioned towards the top of the Yankees’ order, his productivity, which includes nine home runs, a .312 batting average, and an OPS of .921 through Sunday, would have been crucial for the team in any of the 43 games.

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Even more crucial has been his presence down the stretch, where Anthony Rizzo has provided big hits and consistent impact at the plate for a lineup that is frequently battered and bruised.

Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that Anthony Rizzo had been a significant factor for the team, emphasizing his consistency and ability to come through in crucial moments to secure victories. Boone highlighted the first baseman’s contributions as a stabilizing force for the team, providing a sense of steadiness and support throughout their challenges.

Many of the Yankees’ injuries this season have affected players with prior injury histories, but Anthony Rizzo has been spared.

Anthony Rizzo emerges as a key figure

In February, when the Yankees rewarded him with a two-year, $40 million contract to return, Anthony Rizzo stated he would need to continue taking care of his poor back, which has previously forced him to miss time.

The Yankees‘ success to this point is in large part due to his consistent presence. Anthony Rizzo was named the American League Player of the Week after going .444 (12-for-27) with an OPS of 1.315 in the previous week.

He has blasted three home runs in the Yankees’ last three games against the Rays, including two — one on Friday, the second of which won the game in the eighth inning, and one on Sunday, which gave the Yankees a lead.

Cole explained that what made Anthony Rizzo such a challenging opponent at the plate was his ability to hit the ball to the opposite field, as well as his power to drive the ball deep and spoil pitches. He emphasized that the player had the capacity to cause damage, maintain a high batting average, increase the pitch count, draw walks, and demonstrate adaptability by adjusting his approach from one pitch to another, similar to exceptional hitters. Cole expressed admiration for the player’s diverse skill set, describing him as a complete player with numerous tools at his disposal.

As of Monday, Anthony Rizzo was tied for third in the American League in hits with 48, sixth in OPS, and seventh in batting average. Anthony Rizzo has only caused problems for the Yankees when he has attempted to steal bases, and both of those attempts have been unsuccessful.

Of course, Anthony Rizzo hasn’t just feasted on righties. Despite the tiny sample size, Anthony Rizzo has fared better this season versus left-handed pitchers than right-handed ones. His slash line is .385.467.513 versus left-handed pitchers, while it is .287.371.530 against righties.

The negative awards fans may like

The Least valuable player slot goes to Aaron Hicks

Prior to the start of the season, Aaron Hicks owed the Yankees $30.5 million over the following three years. Perhaps the Yankees will finally get over their pride and release him. Fangraphs claims that Hicks has had a terrible season. A hitter with at least 50 at-bats, his 28 wRC+ ranks 12th poorest in the league. It appears as though the Yankees are desperately searching for an out to avoid starting him. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, last year’s starting shortstop, has started more games in center field (12) than Hicks (3) and has played in more games in the outfield than Hicks. On May 8 against the A’s, Hicks blasted his first home run of the year, and he often gets in some additional batting practice before games. He hasn’t fallen short due to a lack of effort. Unfortunately for the Yankees, it appears that Willie Calhoun and Jake Bauers are superior options.

Cy yuck award goes to Clarke Schmidt

Schmidt had a strong spring training, and in March, Boone emphasized the potential threat that Schmidt’s new cut fastball posed to left-handed hitters. On the other hand, southpaws are hitting .369 against Clarke Schmidt so far. He is now 1-4 with a 6.30 ERA in nine starts after allowing seven earned runs on Sunday. The Yankees’ performance wasn’t as good as they had wanted.

Boone gets an award for his wrong decisions

After 8 1/3 innings, Domingo Germán appeared to be in good shape before Boone removed him from the game. The Guardians were up 2-0 in the ninth inning on May 1, but a disastrous outing by Clay Holmes resulted in a 3-2 loss for the team.

Award for the biggest disappointment

No one knows when Rodón will finally make his debut in pinstripes, but his wife recently shot down a rumor that he might not throw this season because of his injuries. The Yankees gave Rodón a huge deal even though they knew he had a long and bad history of injuries, and it’s already coming back to bite them.

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