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  • E.J. Fagan

Is Anthony Rizzo Okay?

April 15, 2024

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I’m beginning to get worried about Anthony Rizzo.


I know. It’s super early. Rizzo had just 65 plate appearances heading into the Sunday game. Unless someone is hitting .100 to start the season or something by this point, the smart thing to do is ignore the numbers. Just as Anthony Volpe isn’t going to hit .350 in 2024, Aaron Judge isn’t going to slug .407 either. Rizzo is hitting .281/.369/.368, which is far from the worst on the team.


But something feels off about Rizzo. He’s been uncharacteristically bad in the field, with four errors and a handful of other plays that could have been an error. It feels like he hasn’t hit anything hard all season. His Statcast page supports my concern:



Rizzo’s hitting looks average or worse across the board. He doesn’t have a single barrel on the season; even his one home run was a foul pole scraper. Here is what Rizzo looked like in 2022:




Rizzo has never been a Judge/Stanton/Sanchez exit velocity guy, but he was still one of the better MLB hitters at getting consistent barrels. He struck out less than the average hitter. He walked a lot more than the average. Rizzo has always been a solid all-around batter.


The thing that is easy to miss but jumps out to me is the decline in sprint speed. Rizzo has gone from a bad 25.5 ft/s to worse than Giancarlo Stanton at 23.6 ft/s. Statcast’s sprint speed is a weird stat, since it relies on measuring the rare moments when players are running all out, but I’ll be keeping a big eye on Rizzo’s speed. Rizzo doesn’t need speed per se, but it’s a worrying sign. As we saw with Aaron Hicks, DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton, slower speed can indicate rapidly dropping athleticism. Rizzo is at the age where players start to fall off a cliff:



Anthony Rizzo is incredibly important to this team. They don’t have any real alternatives at first base. They don’t have a lot of great options to protect Soto and Judge. The team is counting on Anthony Rizzo to be a good hitter and solid defensive first baseman. Right now, he’s an average or worse hitter and a bad defender.

8 Comments


Alan B.
Alan B.
Apr 15

The one thing I was worried about was what was going to be the physical toll that he took last year by playing & traveling 2+ months post the neck spike. I didn't even factor in the mental aspect. He looks like not only is Rizzo a year older, but lost some skill due to playing those 2 months.


Perhaps, he can shake some of the rust off as the weeks go by, and be better.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Apr 16
Replying to

Alan,

I agree. It's not easy to come back after missing a lot of time. You're correct. There is a transition.

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Apr 15

Anthony Rizzo may have a psychological thing going. It was obviously a very painful experience when Fernando Tatis Jr crashed hard into Rizzo's neck causing that concussion. The neck. What a terrible place to get hit so hard! Psychologically and SUBCONSCIOUSLY, while playing 1B, he may be trying to avoid a repeat of that specific injury and playing the position with less tenacity because it is in his head that he wants to avoid a repeat of that injury.


This same thing may be occurring with Giancarlo Stanton when he is batting and it may cross his mind from time to time when he suffered that devastating jaw-breaking beaning from Mike Fiers when he as with the Marlins and Fiers…


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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Apr 16
Replying to

So many also say, "When Cole comes back" and I have written that when he comes back, he might not be the pitcher he was before the injury.

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fuster
Apr 15

Rizzo isn't looking great thus far


but it's important to note that he has more hits than strike-outs


and that his batting average is .274, which tracks with his history


his OBP is .357 which also tracks.


his errors are the only real concern

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Apr 16
Replying to

BUT... the errors are a real concern for a guy who is known for being a great glove - that's his calling card.

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