Last Updated on October 22, 2023 at 9:08 am by Michael Bennington
Aaron Judge acknowledged that the player didn’t wish to have a batting average of .209 in his first season, and he recognized the player’s dissatisfaction with that performance. The Yankees captain expressed that he believed Anthony Volpe’s current season had been impressive, but he added that they were only witnessing the start of his career. Aaron Judge was optimistic that the player would make a strong impact in the upcoming year.
“I know he definitely doesn’t want to be hitting . for his first season — I know he’s not happy about that,” the superstar slugger said about Anthony Volpe to The Post. “I think he’s had an impressive year so far, but we’re only seeing the beginning. He’s going to come out with a bang next year.”
Aaron Judge is not the sole individual who holds the belief that Anthony Volpe has untapped potential, especially in terms of becoming a more well-rounded hitter. The positives included his exceptional defense, exemplified by his nomination as an AL Gold Glove finalist on Wednesday, his achievement of becoming the first Yankees rookie to attain membership in the 20-20 club, and his admirable demeanor.
On the other hand, the most evident setback was his rather modest batting average.
The Yankees are banking on the fruits of Anthony Volpe’s offseason labor to translate into improved performance in 2024. They recognize that they can’t afford to offer leniency when evaluating his performance next season. Instead, they’re counting on him to elevate his game if they want to bounce back as a team. On a positive note, the Yankees have confidence in Volpe’s potential for growth, citing his intelligence, work ethic, and capacity to continue developing.
Casey is equally bullish on Anthony Volpe’s rise
Hitting coach Sean Casey believes that Anthony Volpe should ideally be a hitter with a batting average between .270 and .280. According to him, this would result in around 25 home runs, while also expecting the rookie shortstop to be capable of hitting gap-to-gap doubles. Casey emphasized that, in his view, Anthony Volpe was not a .210 hitter.
Casey further explained that as Anthony Volpe gained experience in the major leagues and faced various pitchers more frequently, he would develop a better understanding of how pitchers approached him. Casey looked forward to the next season, during which Anthony Volpe would have a body of work against several pitchers and could adjust his game plan accordingly. He expressed his excitement about the player’s potential for improvement with increased experience.
Providing Anthony Volpe with the opportunity to gain experience in 159 games could turn out to be the most notable outcome of a mostly challenging 2023 season for the Yankees.
Despite having only 99 plate appearances at Triple-A prior to earning the starting shortstop position through impressive spring training, the New Jersey native raised the bar for the impact he could have when he joined the Yankees in The Bronx, particularly considering the team’s past decisions to forgo signing top free-agent shortstops.
At certain points in the season, there were instances where Anthony Volpe seemed to have made significant strides offensively. Starting in mid-June when he adjusted his stance, a move reminiscent of his approach in the minors, up until September 2, Anthony Volpe maintained a batting average of .250 and an OPS of .805 across 66 games.
However, toward the end of the season, he seemed to lose momentum, likely due to the extended duration of his professional season. September was notably challenging for him, as the shortstop batted only .163 with a .482 OPS, making it the toughest month of his season.
Nonetheless, for the Yankees to regain their footing in the upcoming season, they’ll depend on a more consistently productive Anthony Volpe to play a pivotal role in their success.
Casey expressed the perspective that being in Scranton and becoming an All-Star wouldn’t have been beneficial for Anthony Volpe. He went on to say that, while he hoped the rookie would win the Gold Glove and believed that he was the best shortstop in the game, it was invaluable for the shortstop to be in the major leagues, experiencing the challenges and fluctuations in performance. Casey emphasized the idea that adversity could be leveraged as a learning experience and ultimately an advantage in a player’s development.
Anthony Volpe is aware of the Yankees’ expectations
The rookie shortstop acknowledged that there was a significant amount of personal development needed, even after completing the season with a .666 OPS and 21 home runs. Anthony Volpe believed that every 22-year-old had room for improvement and expressed that he had learned a great deal over the course of the season. He mentioned his intention to begin breaking down his performance and focusing on areas for improvement in the coming weeks.
During his progression through the minor leagues, Anthony Volpe had a reputation as a hitter capable of consistently driving line drives to all areas of the field. However, he appeared to deviate from this approach too frequently in the current season.
According to data from Baseball Savant, Anthony Volpe pulled approximately 46.7 percent of his batted balls, a statistic that ranked him 13th among qualified hitters.
Another area of concern was his striking out. Anthony Volpe accumulated 167 strikeouts during the season, a figure that was tied for the 17th-highest in the majors. He often faced difficulties with breaking pitches down and away, contributing to his elevated strikeout total.
Casey commented on how, initially, it appeared that Anthony Volpe was making an effort to force the game, rather than allowing it to unfold naturally. He observed that sometimes Volpe’s swing was too aggressive or that he might not have been waiting for the right pitch. Casey noted that Anthony Volpe was gradually gaining an understanding of how to approach an at-bat in the major leagues, emphasizing the importance of hunting a specific zone when facing pitchers at that level.
Nevertheless, the Yankees maintained their faith in Anthony Volpe and afforded him regular starts throughout the season.
Their expectation is that the valuable experience of encountering challenges and learning in the major league will ultimately yield positive results in the upcoming season.
Why Yankees are confident about Volpe
The Yankees are confident in Anthony Volpe’s ability to make the required physical adjustments, and they also praise his character and work ethic, which they believe will assist him in achieving his goals.
In essence, Anthony Volpe hasn’t encountered extensive adversity in terms of victory and defeat. This is precisely why the Yankees’ early conclusion to the season, concluding with an 82-80 record and a fourth-place finish, left a sour impression on the 22-year-old.
Anthony Volpe, who had been a Yankees fan since childhood, mentioned that the primary takeaway from the season was that individual performances had not been sufficient. He felt that this realization had motivated many individuals within the team to strive for improvement.
Certainly, Anthony Volpe’s sentiments appeared to align with this perspective upon the conclusion of his inaugural major league season. His season statistics revealed a .209 batting average, .283 on-base percentage, and .383 slugging percentage, along with 23 doubles, four triples, 21 home runs, 60 runs batted in, 24 stolen bases, and an 81 OPS+.
Remarkably, his defensive abilities exceeded initial assessments, and he achieved the distinction of becoming the first Yankees rookie to enter the 20-20 club. Nevertheless, Anthony Volpe’s batting average and on-base percentage fell significantly short of pre-season expectations, and maintaining consistent performance proved challenging as he grappled with injuries that seemed to afflict nearly everyone around him.
Aaron Boone assessed Volpe’s debut season as successful overall. He highlighted Anthony Volpe’s potential to contend for a Gold Glove, a significant achievement for a shortstop in a premium position. Boone acknowledged that Volpe had demonstrated power and a base-stealing threat.
However, he also noted that there were areas in which Anthony Volpe needed to make adjustments and improve offensively to become more consistent and dependable for the team, indicating that the potential for improvement existed within him.
Ace Gerrit Cole noted that the game presented challenges and obstacles that Anthony Volpe had to overcome both in the present and moving forward. However, Cole commended Volpe’s approach to the game, stating that his strong work ethic and baseball knowledge gave him confidence that Volpe would adapt and make the necessary adjustments. Cole particularly praised the rookie’s exceptional baseball awareness and impressive acumen in the sport.
Among the Gold Glove finalists, the Yankees’ Anthony Volpe was nominated in addition to the Mets’ Francisco Lindor and the Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo.
In the American League shortstop category, Anthony Volpe shared the nomination with Corey Seager and Carlos Correa. On the other hand, Lindor’s competitors in the National League shortstop category include Dansby Swanson and Ezequiel Tovar. As for Rizzo, his fellow finalists in the American League first base category are Nathaniel Lowe and Ryan Mountcastle.
What do you think? Leave your comment below.