Anthony Volpe joins an elite group of rookies after a breakout year

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In the 2023 season, although the New York Yankees didn’t secure a postseason berth, several individual players shone brightly, showcasing their talents and potential. Anthony Volpe‘s emergence as their shortstop is among those noteworthy highlights. He ended the season on a record note that places his rookie season in the MLB record books.

Anthony Volpe made a significant impact, accumulating impressive statistics. He concluded the year with 21 home runs, 60 RBIs, 24 stolen bases, 23 doubles, and a batting line of .209/.283/.383. Moreover, he displayed exceptional defensive skills while handling one of the most challenging positions in baseball.

A notable achievement for Anthony Volpe was that, along with Colorado Rockies rookie Nolan Jones, he became one of the first rookies since Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout to achieve a remarkable feat in a single season. This accomplishment included recording at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases, and 10 defensive runs saved, solidifying his status as a rising star in the league.

They etched their names into the annals of baseball history as only the third pair of rookie players to achieve a remarkable 20-20 season, joining an exclusive club of young talents. Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt Jr. were the other pair of individuals to attain the 20-20 milestone.

Certainly, there is room for growth and development for Anthony Volpe as he enters his sophomore season in the league. While the 22-year-old displayed impressive prowess this year, there are areas where he can refine his game. Improving his on-base percentage will be a key focus moving forward. However, Anthony Volpe showcased glimpses of his exceptional potential this season, and the prospect of his continued growth and refinement in the upcoming year is an exciting prospect for the Yankees and their fans.

Anthony Volpe’s defensive feat

Anthony Volpe shows exceptional defensive display against the Royals on July 21, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.
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Anthony Volpe’s debut season with the New York Yankees has been nothing short of a thrilling roller-coaster ride. The moment he was named the opening day starter, the weight of expectations and the intensity of pressure surged to astronomical levels. Some even drew bold comparisons, likening him to the iconic Derek Jeter.

While it might have been an unreasonable burden for fans to place such immense expectations on Anthony Volpe during his maiden MLB campaign, he didn’t disappoint. He not only displayed flashes of his offensive potential but also left spectators and his manager in awe with his defensive prowess.

Throughout his rookie season, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has been a steadfast supporter of Anthony Volpe. Now, Boone has taken his support for the young phenom to the next level.

The Yankees manager expressed his belief that the player had the potential to win the Gold Glove and continue to improve during an appearance on the “Talkin’ Yanks Podcast.”

While Aaron Boone’s praise for the rookie could be seen as a means to bolster his confidence for the upcoming season, it’s worthwhile to delve deeper into Anthony Volpe’s defensive performance throughout 2023.

Anthony Volpe concluded the season with a .970 fielding percentage and a total of 17 errors. Regrettably, these errors placed him sixth in the MLB for the most errors committed during the season, which might hamper his chances in the award race.

At times, he appeared to be on the cusp of a breakthrough, delivering strong performances in months like June and August. However, there were quieter stretches, including a challenging September where Anthony Volpe posted a batting average of just .148 and an OPS of .469, marking his lowest figures in any month this season.

The offensive rollercoaster

Yankees' Anthony Volpe hits a 404-feet home run to left field at LoanDepot Park vs. the Miami Marlins on August 11, 2023.
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The New York Yankees pulled off a remarkable success story when they convinced Anthony Volpe to forego his commitment to Vanderbilt and sign with them directly out of high school, selecting him as the 30th pick in the draft. Volpe’s rookie season was a rollercoaster ride, marked by both highs and lows. Yet, amid the storied history of the New York Yankees, which includes luminaries like Derek Jeter, Anthony Volpe achieved a unique distinction by becoming the only player in team history to record 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in his inaugural season.

Over the course of 159 games with the Yankees, Anthony Volpe managed a .209 batting average, along with 21 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases. While his plate discipline needs improvement, he exhibited flashes of his immense potential during his rookie year.

Initially, Anthony Volpe employed a technique that saw him go a perfect 15-for-15 in stolen base attempts in his first 72 games. However, in his final 87 games, he experienced a dip in success, going just 9-for-14 while being caught stealing three times. The transition to the major leagues revealed that pitchers were adapting by altering their timing and hold against Anthony Volpe.

The Yankees, as a team, were successful in 76.9 percent of their stolen base attempts this season (100 out of 130) and 75.6 percent last season (102 out of 135). Notably, Fangraphs’ baserunning metric ranked the Yankees as the third-worst team in the majors.

Friend pitches for Anthony Volpe

As Anthony Volpe heads into his sophomore season, the Yankees are hopeful that he can make a significant leap, mirroring the progress made by the Kansas City Royals’ Bobby Witt Jr.

Half a decade ago, Anthony Volpe and Bobby Witt Jr. shared the field as the double-play combination for the 2018 USA 18U national team, which clinched victory in the Pan-American Championships.

In the prior season, Witt had been in a situation similar to Anthony Volpe’s, embarking on his rookie campaign as a shortstop, weathering the highs and lows that come with it. Now, with the invaluable experience of a full season behind him, Witt has made considerable strides in his sophomore year, becoming a linchpin of consistency in the Royals’ offensive arsenal.

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According to Witt, Anthony Volpe had access to valuable veteran presence in the clubhouse and had been engaging in conversations with them to enhance his understanding. Witt found it fascinating to witness the Yankees rookie’s development as a player.

Just a season ago, Witt compiled a .254 batting average alongside a .722 OPS, amassing 20 home runs and stealing 30 bases over the course of 150 games. Fast forward to this year, and Witt’s performance has witnessed a significant uptick, with a .273 batting average and an impressive .802 OPS. His power has surged as well, contributing 29 home runs, and he’s proven to be a stolen base threat with 49 steals in 155 games leading up to Friday’s matchup. Witt’s standout night included his 30th home run of the season and a 2-for-3 performance with three RBIs, making him the first Royals player ever to achieve the rare feat of 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season.

What catapulted Witt into his second-year success story was the invaluable knowledge and experience gained from his rookie season. Meanwhile, Anthony Volpe, who was selected by the Yankees 28 picks after Witt in the 2019 draft, has displayed considerable potential amid the fluctuations of his inaugural MLB campaign.

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