Analyst casts doubt on Anthony Volpe’s leadoff potential for Yankees

Yankees leadoff hitter Anthony Volpe
AP

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Anthony Volpe, the New York Yankees’ shortstop, has emerged as the team’s favorite to lead the lineup. He has also responded to this trust with a 30-game on-base streak and a 21-game hitting streak.

However, analyst Chris Towers has raised serious doubts on his ability to fit atop the Yankees’ lineup. According to him, while Anthony Volpe’s defensive skills remain strong, his offensive contributions, particularly in the leadoff spot, have fallen short of expectations. 

“Anthony Volpe is a good player because he’s a special defender, but he might just be A Guy as a hitter, and is certainly miscast as the leadoff hitter on a team with Juan Freaking Soto,” CBS MLB writer Chris Towers wrote on X posting a graphic that showed Anthony Volpe at 25th on OPS.

Is Anthony Volpe that bad for the Yankees?

In 85 games with 390 plate appearances, Anthony Volpe has posted a .261/.315/.389 slash line, a 99 OPS+, six home runs, 28 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases. While he has improved his strikeout and walk rates from last season, his recent form has been concerning, with just three hits in his last 24 plate appearances.

Yankees' shortstop Anthony Volpe with outfielder Juan Soto and backstop Austin Wells at Yankee Stadium on June 4, 2024.
jstilesphotographer

Anthony Volpe started the season with promise, performing well in April/March and May. However, his production significantly declined in June, where his OPS+ plummeted to 55, he failed to hit any home runs, and he struck out 33 times while drawing only three walks.

He is enduring a second straight season of offensive difficulties, casting doubt on his long-term potential at the plate. But, after a rookie campaign with 81 OPS+, 21 home runs, and 60 RBIs, Anthony Volpe’s 2024 numbers show only slight improvement.

MLB.com’s Mike Petriello pointed out Anthony Volpe’s heavy reliance on batting average on balls in play (BABIP) for his offensive success, highlighting a close correlation between his wOBA and BABIP over 15-game rolling averages. This suggests that his performance was more dependent on external factors than on consistent power hitting.

“Starting to worry he’s not even A guy,” he wrote. “Without a lot of power, Volpe (is) showing just about the clearest risk of BABIP-reliance that you can see.”

Statcast data further underscores concerns about Anthony Volpe’s offensive capabilities. He ranks in the bottom quartile for several crucial metrics: bat speed (11th percentile), barrel rate (17th percentile), and average exit velocity (25th percentile). These figures indicate a significant lack of power in his swing, a key component for success in the majors.

Yankees' Anthony Volpe in action against the San Francisco Giants on June 2, 2024
Yankees

While Anthony Volpe has demonstrated some ability against fastballs, with a .311 average and .385 slugging percentage, he continues to struggle against off-speed and breaking pitches. Although his expected batting average (xBA) has seen a modest improvement from last year, his expected slugging percentage (xSLG) has declined.

Despite these challenges, Anthony Volpe remains valuable due to his defensive skills and base-running prowess. However, his offensive woes have raised questions about his effectiveness as the Yankees‘ leadoff hitter, though the team currently lacks a clear alternative for this role.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

2 thoughts on “Analyst casts doubt on Anthony Volpe’s leadoff potential for Yankees

  1. To me, Volpe has never been a real leadoff man. Not in AA, in 2022, not now in the Majors. He is serviceable but not a long term answer. But the Yankees development team rarely have proper leadoff guys leading off in the minors.

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