Anthony Volpe’s Yankees adventure starts strong with great potential for growth

Yankees' Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo pour ice on Anthony Volpe, who hit the winning run against Baltimore at Yankee Stadium on May 24, 20223.
Michael Bennington
Wednesday May 24, 2023

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Anthony Volpe, the player who delivered the decisive sacrifice fly in the Yankees’ remarkable 6-5 victory against the Orioles on Tuesday night, stands out as the only team member to participate in all 50 games this season.

The 22-year-old player, who surpassed all expectations and emerged as a key member of the Yankees’ game-winning team, was initially considered a long shot to make the team during spring training. But his consistent presence on the field has solidified his position as a regular starter, despite his ongoing adaptation to the challenges of facing major league pitchers.

Anthony Volpe’s rookie season is in full bloom

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Anthony Volpe possessed a .687 OPS, which was primarily bolstered by his disciplined approach at the plate, evident in his 20 walks, as well as his respectable power production, reflected in his seven home runs.

Anthony Volpe’s exceptional baserunning has been a standout aspect of his game. He has successfully stolen bases on his first 13 attempts, effectively transforming many singles into well-executed triples.

His next area of development lies in bringing his batting performance up to par with his exceptional speed and dependable fielding. In his most recent seven games, he struggled at the plate, going 3-for-22 (.136) before his pivotal sacrifice fly game-winning RBI. Consequently, his batting average has dipped to .207.

Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that Volpe has experienced fluctuations in his performance at the plate. Despite this, Anthony Volpe has been instrumental in delivering crucial hits for the team. Boone highlighted Anthony Volpe’s ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark and noted that he shows promising signs of becoming adept at controlling the strike zone. Boone envisions Volpe as a player who could potentially occupy a prominent spot in the lineup, whether at the top or in the middle, as he continues to develop and refine his skills.

According to Boone, Anthony Volpe has displayed remarkable composure and has not been easily overwhelmed by any challenges or circumstances he has faced.

“He’s given you a glimpse [of] I think a guy that’s going to be really good at controlling the strike zone and being a guy that in the future you can envision hitting at the top or in the middle of the lineup. He’s not been overwhelmed by anything.”

Anthony Volpe is a top defensive asset

When it comes to defense, Anthony Volpe ranks average in terms of Defensive Runs Saved, but Boone expressed satisfaction with his overall performance at shortstop, stating that he has played exceptionally well. Although he leads the team in errors with six, it should be noted that he has also logged the most games and innings played.

Anthony Volpe’s main area for improvement lies in his ability to make consistent contact. He has been struggling in this aspect, as evidenced by his streak of striking out in 10 consecutive games. During this slump, he recorded 15 strikeouts in 34 plate appearances. Among 20 qualified shortstops, he currently holds the highest strikeout rate at 30.4 percent.

Last season in Double-A, Anthony Volpe had a relatively low strikeout rate of 17.7 percent in his 497 plate appearances. However, at the major league level, he is facing the new challenge of making consistent contact, which has led to a higher strikeout rate. Adjusting to the demands of the big leagues is another aspect Anthony Volpe is currently navigating.

Yankees third-base coach Luis Rojas discussed the adjustment that rookies go through when transitioning to the major leagues, emphasizing the importance of gaining more at-bats and exposure at this level. He pointed out that as players get more exposure, teams gather more information and develop strategies specifically targeted toward them.

During his time as the Mets manager, Rojas had the opportunity to observe promising prospects like Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez as they aimed to translate their success in the minor leagues to the major league stage. However, their experiences were met with varying levels of achievement.

According to Rojas, while he has come across prospects with comparable levels of talent to Anthony Volpe, he has encountered very few with a similar combination of attributes and character.

Rojas praised Anthony Volpe for not only his skills but also his composure, highlighting the potential impact of the New York stage on young players. Despite the challenges and pressures, Anthony Volpe has consistently maintained his demeanor and approach, regardless of any slow starts, difficult days, or rough patches. According to Rojas, Volpe’s unwavering consistency and maturity make him stand out.

Bright future ahead

Rojas expressed optimism about Anthony Volpe’s future, noting that his consistent performance at a young age indicates a promising trajectory. The fact that Volpe has shown such reliability and stability at this stage of his career suggests that he has the potential to further improve and develop his skills in the coming years. Rojas believes that Volpe’s continued growth will lead to an even brighter future ahead.

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With Anthony Volpe now positioned toward the bottom of the lineup, the pressure for his bat to excel has somewhat diminished. In previous instances, due to various injuries within the team, the young shortstop was pushed to the leadoff spot. However, with a healthier roster, he has been slotted into the seventh spot in the lineup, allowing him to focus on his development without the added burden of leading off. This adjustment in the batting order provides Anthony Volpe with a more favorable environment to continue honing his skills and finding his rhythm at the major league level.

Despite experiencing some ups and downs offensively at the start of his career, Anthony Volpe’s consistent impact on the base paths has proven to be a valuable asset. His ability to create havoc and be a constant threat on the bases has compensated for any inconsistencies in his offensive performance. As a result, after completing 50 games, Anthony Volpe has shown enough promise and productivity to warrant continued playing time and opportunities to contribute to the team’s success.

Boone expressed his admiration for Anthony Volpe, describing him as an impressive player who has lived up to the expectations the team had when they decided to include him on the roster as their shortstop. The decision made at the end of training camp to bring him along has been validated by his performance and contributions to the team.

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