The Yankees are shutting down first baseman Anthony Rizzo for the rest of the season, manager Aaron Boone said Tuesday. Boone added that Rizzo is progressing well in his concussion recovery and that the team is just “running out of time” to get him back in the lineup.
Rizzo hit .244 with 12 home runs and 41 RBI in just 99 games this year with an uncharacteristic .706 OPS. He has not played since Aug. 1 and initially suffered his concussion back on May 28. On a pickoff move, Padres outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. appeared to ram Rizzo in the shoulder. Rizzo was visibly shaken and left the game, though he passed MLB’s concussion protocol.
Except by the numbers, something was clearly wrong. Anthony Rizzo was batting .304 at the time of the injury and hit just .172 since. He was visibly slower at the plate and just wasn’t himself. Finally, in August, the Yankees solved the injury mystery.
The truth is shutting down Anthony Rizzo was inevitable. The Yankees, despite just sweeping the Astros, are still last in the AL East and 8.5 games out of the last Wild Card berth. Furthermore, it’s not as though the Yankees are desperate for a first baseman. DJ LeMahieu is more than capable of handling the position and is also batting .283 in the second half.
This also, obviously, allows Rizzo to focus on his recovery and come back fully healthy next season. To be batting over .300 in late May in an age-33 season is no small feat, and Rizzo just turned 34 last month. We also know he isn’t just a pure power hitter and, when healthy, can be an effective whole-field hitter.
And if for whatever reason Anthony Rizzo looks to have lost a step next season, the Yankees are playing with house money. He earns $17 million next year and could hit free agency in 2025.
Regardless, all signs point to the Yankees having captain Aaron Judge’s loyal first mate back in the lineup next year. Don’t be surprised if Anthony Rizzo has the loudest ovation of all come Opening Day 2024.