The Yankees have had a lackluster month of August, and many important players have not performed up to standards.
As of late, Anthony Rizzo has been a part of that group. However, there is some evidence to suggest that Rizzo has been unlucky this year as a whole and that he should see some positive regression. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Rizzo’s batting average on balls put in play (BABIP) is absurdly low this season at .217. League-average BABIP is usually around .300. That’s good for the lowest in his career. The next lowest is .218 in 2020, which was the season that was cut to 60 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of those two seasons, Rizzo has never had a BABIP lower than .258.
As mentioned in one of my recent posts relating to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, making contact doesn’t matter if it’s not good contact. So it’s not good enough to just look at the raw BABIP numbers to determine if a player is unlucky.
That brings me to Rizzo’s percentile rankings on Baseball Savant. He ranks right around the 60th percentile for average exit velocity and hard-hit rate, which is not amazing, but above league-average. Rizzo is in the 77th percentile for barrel rate, which means he hits the ball hard and at a good launch angle. He also ranks in the 81st percentile for expected slugging and xwOBA. The latter of the two stats is regarded as the best for predicting future offensive production.
Rizzo also boasts an 11% walk rate, which is better than many might expect. He is also in the 81st percentile for that stat. A hitter who takes his walks even when he is struggling significantly raises their floor. He does this while maintaining a good strikeout rate as well, ranking in the 61st percentile.
While Rizzo is not the player he was during his prime on the Cubs, he certainly has the track record to give fans faith that he will come out of his recent slump. There are many valid concerns when it comes to this Yankees team when it comes to how they will perform in October, Rizzo shouldn’t be on that list. He is a battle-tested player who knows how to get in the right shape physically and mentally for a playoff run.
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