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Como Se Dice pull in Italiano? Anthony Rizzo and the Right Side

When the Yankees passed on trading for Matt Olson and passed on signing Freddie Freeman, there was some disappointment and frustration in many Yankee-centric circles. Anthony Rizzo was the consolation prize. But his start to 2022, featuring a league-leading nine home runs, has halted that idea in its tracks. Behind this torrid start is something that should seem simple when it comes to a lefty hitter who plays at Yankee Stadium: pulling the ball.

This year, Rizzo is pulling the ball at a career high 56.2% rate, well above his average of 42.1%. He’s also paired this with hitting the ball on the ground less than normal: 32.3% compared to 39.4% for his career. What’s surprising about this, in a good way, is that he hasn’t sacrificed going the other way. He’s at 21% oppo, compared to 21.9% for his career. He’s not hitting the ball up the middle nearly as much–22.6 vs. 35.8–but that hasn’t hurt his production at all.

An Obligatory Preseason Lineup Post

As obligatory as a post about the lineup, so is the following statement. Overall, lineup construction doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you really screw it up. We may not be Aaron Boone’s biggest fans here, but we know he’s not going to hit Isiah Kiner-Falefa leadoff and Aaron Judge ninth. Still, it’s a fun thing to muse about and when there isn’t any real action to dissect yet, it’s a good thought exercise.

This one in particular was brought on by the lineup the Yankees put out in their Spring Training matchup with the Blue Jays yesterday:

For one reason or another, one I couldn’t entirely place and really still can’t, I liked the top-6 of that lineup, not just the players, but the way they were ordered. I’d probably flip DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, however, and the addition of Anthony Rizzo would necessitate those previous two moving down. Putting Rizzo in there means it’s the full strength lineup. Here’s how I’d order them.

Report: Yankees sign Anthony Rizzo to two year deal

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Anthony Rizzo will return to the Yankees for at least one more season according to multiple reports. It’s a two year deal worth $32 million, but Rizzo can opt out after the 2022 season (Jesse Rogers). This move officially takes the Yankees out of the running for Freddie Freeman. Apparently, the Yankees “grew weary” of waiting on Freeman’s decision (Brendan Kuty). And yet, they also fear he could go to Boston (Jon Heyman). Goodness gracious, the optics of this are awful.

All this isn’t meant to be a slight on Rizzo, who’s still a good player. PECOTA projects a .257/.364/.444 (119 DRC+) and slightly above average defense. I’ll take that right now. Plus, he fit in well with the team after the trade deadline last summer. It’s just that…there were better options out there in Freeman and Matt Olson.

The new first baseman [2021 Season Review]

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In a surprise trade deadline move, the Yankees acquired Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs in exchange for prospects Alex VizcaĂ­no and Kevin Alcántara. The Yankees were actively pursuing Trevor Story, but turned to Rizzo once the Rockies decided to keep their shortstop. Luke Voit, the incumbent first baseman, was hurt at the time of the deal but it didn’t seem like he had a weak hold on his job, either (though Voit was involved in trade rumors himself). The Yankees gave Rizzo the gig and let him run with it.

Ultimately, the need for left-handed lineup balance and a low-strikeout hitter made Rizzo a good fit, even if it made for perplexing handling of Voit the rest of the season (a subject to revisit once we publish Voit’s season review). We may see more of Rizzo in pinstripes depending on how free agency goes, but for now, let’s reflect on his second half stint in the Bronx.

Game 107: Taillon dazzles again

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Although the final score favored the Yankees 10-3, this game was pretty close for the first six and a half innings. The Yankees trailed early (3-0 entering the bottom of the fourth), tied things up by the fifth, and then exploded for five runs in the seventh thanks to some timely hitting and ugly Baltimore defense.

The offense may have scored double digits for a second consecutive game, but the story today was Jameson Taillon. He dominated the Orioles’ lineup, and as I’ll discuss momentarily, pitched even better than what the box score indicates. With that, let’s get right to the takeaways:

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