Has New York Yankees rookie Ben Rice ‘Wally Pipp’d’ Anthony Rizzo?

Ben Rice
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees fans are all too familiar with rookie sensation Ben Rice. He may have only been ranked as the Yankees’ 12th-best prospect, according to MLB.com. This begs the question, if Rice was ranked 12th, how good are the other Yankees prospects, such as Jasson Dominguez, Spencer Jones, or Chase Hampton? At least those prospects landed in the top-100.

Back to Rice, who’s just 17 games into his MLB career with the Yankees since being promoted from AAA out of necessity on June 18 following Anthony Rizzo’s injury. With Rizzo expected to miss at least two months, if not more, with a fractured arm, Rice has gotten an extended look with the Bronx Bombers.

While he’s mostly handled first base duties in replacement of Rizzo, Rice also has the added value of being able to play catcher. Yet, it’s not his versatile fielding skills that forces Yankees manager Aaron Boone to write the 25-year-old rookie’s name onto the batting card every day. It’s largely thanks to his bat.

Rice mashing at the plate is nothing new, especially not this year. Rice needed less than 15 days to make a strong impression on the Yankees at the Triple-A level after being promoted from Double-A on June 5. He clubbed a home run in his first three games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and he hasn’t stopped making solid contact since arriving in the big leagues either.

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Should Anthony Rizzo be concerned about Ben Rice Wally Pipping him?

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

With how strongly Rice has been performing, now some are even asking whether the first baseman is on the way to ‘Wally Pipping’ Anthony Rizzo. Here was USA Today’s MLB insider Bob Nightengale who recently asked the question of whether Rice has already Wally Pipp’d Rizzo in his latest column.

“Has Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo become Wally Pipp’d?

Rookie Ben Rice, his replacement at first while he’s on the injured list, became the first Yankees rookie to hit three homers in a game while driving in seven runs, tying Lou Gehrig’s rookie record.”

Bob Nightengale asks if Ben Rice has Wally Pipp’d Anthony Rizzo

For those who aren’t familiar, getting ‘Wally Pipp’d’ means a star has lost his starting job due to injury, only because his replacement has been so good.

Baseball fans all around the globe know the name Wally Pipp today, even though he hasn’t played since 1928. But fans today largely know him as the guy who Lou Gehrig replaced at first base after Pipp missed a game due to a headache. Gehrig never looked back, setting a new MLB record by playing in 2,130 consecutive games. Pipp was later sent to Cincinnati to finish his career.

In an ideal world, the Yankees probably prefer to have Rizzo return to full health, boosting a lineup that has lost its punch without their three-time All-Star. Plus, since Rice can also play catcher, the Yankees shouldn’t have trouble finding a place for both hitters in their lineup. Either way, it would be a ‘good’ problem for Boone to have with Rice and Rizzo performing their best.

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