Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

Thank the baseball gods, Anthony Rizzo is back in form at the plate. The Yankees’ first baseman looks well recovered from the long-undiagnosed concussion that tanked his 2023 season, batting .245 with seven homers and 27 RBI. Rizzo has also cut his strikeouts down and sits right on the border of average at 99 wRC+ with plenty of season left to improve.

Anthony Rizzo the fielder, however, is a different story. This is a rare instance where the analytics don’t necessarily tell the whole story. Rizzo’s defensive runs saved (DRS) for the season are -1, and the outs above average (OAA) sit at a flat zero.

Nope, we’re looking to good old-fashioned errors for this one, baseball fans! Dust the cobwebs off of the stubborner old-schoolers, they’ll want to hear this. The upcoming numbers may not seem significant, but certainly are in the bigger picture.

As of this writing, Anthony Rizzo has committed three errors in 55 games after committing four in 92 in 2023. Again, there’s room to get better, but that isn’t exactly a bright fielding forecast either. Rizzo held it together in the field while concussed last season, and yet he looks worse a year later?

Granted, I’ll fully admit that the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Angels on Tuesday may be driving this. As you can see below, Rizzo misplayed a groundball from Luis Rengifo that ideally would have been the third out. This was scored a hit, but look how the ball pops out of Rizzo’s glove mid-dive:

Clay Holmes then entered for a four-out save, and promptly gave up Taylor Ward’s go-ahead RBI double on the first pitch. Cue #YankeesX/Twitter going off on Rizzo, but we’ll avoid that here.

The reality of it is that though Anthony Rizzo looks a better overall player again in 2024, he’s also a year older. He turns 35 in August and the Yankees hold a $17 million option on his contract for ’25. Meanwhile, prospects Ben Rice and T.J. Rumfield wait down on the farm for their call to the Show.

It all amounts to yet another game of New York Yankees Infield Chess at the hands of general manager/looming Grandmaster Brian Cashman. How does he solve the first base conundrum? Should he trade Rizzo at the deadline or just buy out his option in the offseason?

And who plays first base in Rizzo’s place? Does a prospect get promoted or does DJ LeMahieu move over from third? He can play first no problem, but it’s also his weakest defensive position.

Moreover, if LeMahieu moves across the diamond, who plays third? Oswaldo Cabrera? Maybe Oswald Peraza, but he seems ticketed for second base if the Yankees move on from Gleyber Torres.

Whatever the solution, the Yankees cannot be blind to the growing Anthony Rizzo problem at first base. Simply put, he’s probably just a year older and thus a year slower. There’s little New York can do to stave off age.

The good news is that Rizzo is more or less doing his job with the bat, but his glove may be running out of chances, and fast.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.