Anthony Volpe mirrors Derek Jeter with amazing display of defensive mastery

Anthony Volpe's defense and throw vs. the Astros on Sept 3, 2023, in Houston mirrors that of Derek Jeter.

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The Yankees no. 11 is the team’s new no. 2 and Anthony Volpe did a defensive show on Saturday to prove himself the worthy follower of his inspiration Derek Jeter.

In the midst of the game vs. the Astros, the Yankees’ agile shortstop ventured deep into the infield’s far reaches, deftly backhanding a sharply-hit ground ball. What happened next was a page right out of Derek Jeter’s playbook, as Anthony Volpe executed a jump toss that mirrored the iconic plays of the Yankees legend, sealing Mauricio Dubon’s fate in the fifth inning of their nail-biting 5-4 victory over the Astros.

With a single step and a graceful leap off his left leg, Anthony Volpe harnessed every ounce of strength in his arm, delivering a precise throw across his body and diagonally across the diamond—a play he had watched Derek Jeter master countless times.

This wasn’t just a one-time spectacle for Anthony Volpe; it was a move ingrained in his muscle memory from childhood. “Probably every time,” he reminisced, recounting how often he practiced this very play during his early years of fielding ground balls.

Anthony Volpe: A worthy successor to Derek Jeter

The Yankees held their collective breath, hoping that Anthony Volpe’s progression would lead him to become the heir apparent to No. 2. And on that Saturday night, Anthony Volpe, a native of New York who grew up in New Jersey, embodied his hero’s spirit and skill, leaving no doubt that he was a worthy successor during their 5-4 triumph over the Astros.

Manager Aaron Boone, who had observed Derek Jeter’s play unfolding repeatedly from third base during his playing days, remarked:

“He took a page out of his guy’s book—Jeets was his guy. I’m sure he’s seen that a lot in his mind and his dreams.”

The batter added an extra layer of awe to the moment at Minute Maid Park. Mauricio Dubon, the man responsible for the sharply hit grounder that found its way into the shortstop hole, possesses an impressive amount of speed.

Anthony Volpe shows exceptional defensive display against the Royals on July 21, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

While some shortstops might opt to pause momentarily to establish their footing, and others might resort to a sidearm throw as their momentum carries them toward the outfield, there’s a unique breed of shortstop, one who, in his formative years, aspired to emulate the great Jeter. In a swift and fluid motion, Anthony Volpe fields the ball, leaps into action, and releases it with precision—a seamless sequence that sent the ball directly into the waiting glove of first baseman DJ LeMahieu, barely beating Dubon to the bag by a mere fraction of a second.

“I think maybe over time, it becomes just like a reaction,” Anthony Volpe said of his decision to jump. “I just messed around in practice [with the jump] a lot.”

This incident proved beneficial for Jhony Brito as he completed an inning without any blemishes. Moreover, it served as another piece of evidence for Boone’s argument that his shortstop deserved recognition as one of the sport’s elite.

In the spring training sessions, Anthony Volpe occasionally found himself stationed at second base out of respect for Oswald Peraza, known for his potent throwing arm. However, he ultimately secured the shortstop position, and despite a somewhat inconsistent start to the season, he has shown remarkable defensive growth. He now confidently handles nearly every ball within his reach, cementing his place as a reliable force on the field.

Anthony Volpe in Gold Glove contention

The Yankees manager emphasized that Anthony Volpe should find himself prominently discussed within the Gold Glove conversation.

In Derek Jeter’s era, the legend leaped into the spotlight repeatedly, earning five Gold Gloves.

Boone said that it was a truly impressive play, particularly noting the skill of the runner and how he consistently displayed exceptional defensive prowess for their team.

Yankees' shortstop Anthony Volpe makes an excellent defensive display vs. the Tigers on Aug 28, 2023, in Detroit.

Anthony Volpe disclosed that he had diligently practiced the specific play, remarking, “He’s probably worked on that play every time he’s taken groundballs.”

The 22-year-old rookie shortstop continued his recent offensive surge, tallying a 1-for-3 performance with a double and two walks. Leading up to Saturday’s game, Anthony Volpe had compiled impressive stats, batting .250 with seven home runs, 21 RBIs, and a .857 OPS over his last 30 games. This marked a significant improvement over his early performance, where he struggled with a .207 batting average in his first 104 games.

Throughout his rapid ascent in the minor leagues, Anthony Volpe had been primarily viewed as an offense-oriented prospect, beginning when he was drafted by the Yankees at the age of 18 out of Delbarton School in New Jersey. However, his defensive skills pleasantly surprised the Yankees, earning him high praise from Boone on Saturday.

When it came to advanced defensive statistics, opinions on Anthony Volpe seemed divided. According to The Fielding Bible, he ranked third in the league at his position with 14 defensive runs saved, trailing only the Rays’ Wander Franco (17) and the Cubs’ Dansby Swanson (15). Conversely, Statcast placed him 17th among shortstops with just three outs above average.

Despite his below-average arm strength, many talent evaluators admired Anthony Volpe’s impressive range and quick hands, attributes that allowed him to compensate effectively. Boone admitted that Volpe’s defensive performance exceeded his initial expectations.

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