Anthony Rizzo’s fading offense casts shadow on his Yankees future

Yankees' Anthony Rizzo is in action during the game against the Twins at Yankee Stadium on June 7, 2024.
Inna Zeyger
Sunday June 9, 2024

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Rumors are there that the New York Yankees may trade Anthony Rizzo to free up funds for Juan Soto‘s mega contract. But with his current form, the first baseman’s performance is only adding more to these trade rumors and making a perfect case for his departure from the Bronx.

Following the Yankees’ consecutive losses to the Dodgers, the focus has shifted to the prolonged offensive woes of first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The veteran infielder’s struggles have become increasingly apparent over the past three weeks, with his performance reaching alarming lows.

In his last 22 appearances, spanning 91 plate appearances, Anthony Rizzo’s slugging percentage has plummeted to a mere .186, with only two extra-base hits – both doubles – to his name. The Yankees’ 11-3 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday evening further highlighted his difficulties, as he failed to record a hit, extending his current slump to a dismal 1-for-29.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Anthony Rizzo managed to generate a 106-mph groundout, marking the first time he has surpassed the 100-mph threshold in over a week. He followed this with a 102-mph grounder up the middle, which was deftly handled by Dodgers’ star Mookie Betts.

According to Statcast data, Anthony Rizzo’s average exit velocity for the season has dipped to a career-low 86.3 mph, indicating a significant decrease in his ability to make solid contact with the ball.

Throughout the game, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles were evident. He popped out to end the first inning, leaving two runners stranded, and grounded out to second base to conclude the third. In the sixth inning, he led off with a hard grounder to second, resulting in yet another out.

Yankees' Anthony Rizzo throws his helmet in dejection during the Blue Jays game in Toronto on April 15, 2024.
NYP

Boone still hopeful on Anthony Rizzo

Despite the first baseman’s persistent struggles, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has not yet contemplated giving Anthony Rizzo a break from the lineup in hopes of reigniting his offensive production. The absence of Soto has undoubtedly placed additional pressure on the first baseman and his teammates to step up and fill the void left by the young superstar’s departure.

“I haven’t decided to do that yet because I feel like the work he’s been getting in has been good,” Boone said. “It’s about trusting that work, making sure he’s letting that process happen. You go through struggles, you make adjustments and the work is good and you don’t get a result, it can be [frustrating].”

As the Yankees strive to regain their footing and maintain their position in the standings, Anthony Rizzo’s ability to overcome his current slump and contribute meaningfully to the team’s offensive efforts will be crucial. The spotlight on his performance is likely to intensify as long as Soto remains sidelined, making it all the more important for the first baseman to find a way to break out of his prolonged offensive drought.

Despite overcoming back problems and concussion-related setbacks that plagued him in the previous two seasons, Anthony Rizzo has acknowledged feeling relatively well this year. However, his on-field performance continues to decline, with recent struggles reaching a new low.

Contrary to expectations, the warmer weather has not brought about a resurgence in Anthony Rizzo’s performance. As the calendar turns to June, the first baseman has managed just a single hit, further compounding his offensive woes.

If the Yankees and manager Aaron Boone were to consider giving Anthony Rizzo a break to potentially reignite his offensive production, they have options available to restructure the infield. One possibility would be to shift DJ LeMahieu to first base and deploy the versatile Oswaldo Cabrera at third, allowing Rizzo some time to reset and recharge.

“He’s feeling it a little bit,’’ Boone said. “It’s part of going through [the season].”

Due to the Yankees' poor performance in 2024, some fans were upset that Anthony Rizzo was included in the lineup on May 29, 2024.
AP

But patience is running out

As it stands, the Yankees are receiving minimal offensive contributions from the first base position. The team has managed to thrive thus far, largely due to the exceptional performances of Aaron Judge and the recently acquired Juan Soto. However, with Soto sidelined for the first time this season due to left forearm discomfort, Anthony Rizzo’s prolonged slump has become increasingly problematic.

The Yankees’ offensive struggles were evident in their recent losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After managing just one run in 11 innings on Friday, the team failed to show significant improvement on Saturday. Having Anthony Rizzo batting in the fifth spot has done little to alleviate the issue.

Just two seasons ago, Anthony Rizzo was a formidable presence at the plate, posting a solid .817 OPS and an impressive 130 OPS-plus. However, his performance this year has been subpar by any metric, raising concerns about his future with the team.

The Yankees hold a $17 million team option on the 34-year-old first baseman for the upcoming season, with a $6 million buyout clause. As they navigate the remainder of the current campaign, the organization must prioritize finding ways to extract more production from Anthony Rizzo’s bat, whether through rest, adjustments, or exploring alternative lineup configurations.

“We’ve got all the faith in the world [in Rizzo],’’ Alex Verdugo said. “It’s a very mental game. You have keep your mindset and work ethic right. He’s a little bit in his head, but we’re working on some things.”

But as the Yankees navigate a challenging period without Juan Soto, the spotlight on Rizzo’s struggles has intensified. The team will undoubtedly hope for a turnaround from their veteran first baseman as they strive to maintain their competitive position in the standings. But as of now, uncertainty over his stay hovers!

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Anthony Rizzo’s fading offense casts shadow on his Yankees future

  1. The more this level of production continues, the more he WON’T be back next year. As for this year, I just don’t know just due to team chemistry, but I can see his playing time shrunk, and even him being pinch hit for in certain spots too.

  2. ” THE RIZZ” WILL BE FINE !!!.
    C’MON REALLY !!!. GLEYBER TORRES JUST STARTED COMING AROUND A LITTLE BIT !!!. HE PRACTICALLY SWINGS AT EVERY PITCH THROWN TO HIM AND HE’S BEEN MAKING A LOT OF ERRORS AT 2ND BASE THIS YEAR ALSO !!!.
    D.J. LEM. IS STILL WORKING ON GETTING HIS STROKE BACK !!!.
    SO , WITH THAT SAYING …GIVE RIZZO A BREAK !!!. HIS GOLD GLOVE AT 1ST BASE HELPS OUT “BIG TIME” !!!. HE’LL COME AROUND !!!.
    JUST A LITTLE PATIENCE..YEAH , YEAH 👍.

    ARRON “BOONE THE GOON…NEEDS TO GET HIS HEAD OUT OF HIS ASS !!!!. USE SOME COMMON SENSE !!!.

    ENOUGH SAID !!!.
    GOD BLESS 🙏 AMERICA

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