June 18, 2024

So far, New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo has not had the bounce-back season he had hoped for. His struggles went from bad to worse Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels, as a critical fielding error that was later ruled a hit in the bottom of the eighth inning led to a go-ahead two-run double by Angels outfielder Taylor Ward, giving L.A. a 4-3 lead, which they wouldn’t relinquish in the ninth.

Anthony Rizzo’s error sinks the Yankees against the Angels

The 34-year-old had a reputation as an excellent first-base defender throughout his career, but he has struggled this season. He now has zero outs above average, -1 defensive runs saved, and three mistakes, the second-most among all first basemen this season and one shy of his total from the previous season.

Rizzo struggled at the plate as well, going 0 for 4 with a strikeout in the loss on Tuesday. In his last ten games, the first baseman has a.194 batting average,.250 on-base percentage, and no home runs. According to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, Rizzo has the fourth-lowest OPS among all qualified first basemen this season.

Rizzo discussed his poor performance overall following Tuesday night’s loss and held himself accountable for making a costly error in a high-pressure circumstance.

“To the standard that I hold myself to, I need to be better,” Rizzo told reporters. “I have to make that play. That one stings.

Rizzo has struggled this season

Anthony Rizzo Provides New York Yankees With Comfort And Stability At First  Base

 

The Yankees were hoping that a lineup change a few weeks ago, moving Rizzo from cleanup to the sixth spot, would make him feel more at ease at the plate. Unfortunately for them, that has not occurred up to this time, and their problems are reaching a breaking point for a Yankees club that requires more productivity from their corner infielders.

The injury to DJ LeMahieu early in the season left the Yankees without a backup first baseman, but now that he has been activated from the IL, LeMahieu may see more playing time at first base if Rizzo’s slump continues. Last week, Yankees manager Aaron Boone stated that LeMahieu would be the regular third baseman upon his return, despite his significant experience at first base.

LeMahieu may see time at first base on days when they face a left-handed starting pitcher, giving Rizzo off days to mentally recharge and perhaps snap him out of this slump.
If that strategy fails, the Yankees have a backup plan in the minor levels. Ben Rice currently has a.871 OPS in double-A for the Somerset Patriots and is regarded as a possible long-term first base option. However, the Yankees are unlikely to let him skip triple-A and call him up to the majors anytime soon, so the current roster will have to sort it out.

If Rizzo does not  get going soon enough, then the Yankees could have a massive problem on their hands as the midseason mark approaches.

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