Anthony Volpe’s stellar leadoff showing against Twins earns praise

Yankees' Anthony Volpe is at a base in the game against the Twins at Target Field on April 26, 2023.
John Allen
Thursday April 27, 2023

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Anthony Volpe appears to be at ease atop the Yankees’ lineup. In his 10th straight game hitting leadoff, the rookie shortstop continued to put together excellent at-bats. His position at No. 1 also augurs well for the Yankees.

In the Yankees’ 12-6 win over the Twins at Target Field, he went 2-for-4 with two walks, a double, and three runs. He led the Yankees in breaking the ice in the top of the second inning with aggression, small ball, and full exploitation of the Twins’ errors.

“I’m just overall feeling pretty comfortable,” Anthony Volpe said. “I feel like I’m seeing the ball well. Just want to put together good at-bats. As long as I feel like I’m doing that, I feel like I’m helping the team out.”

Anthony Volpe’s Slow but dazzling start

He had a rough start to the season despite winning the shortstop spot with a stellar spring training performance, but Anthony Volpe has since found his stride.

Around the same time Anthony Volpe was getting hot, manager Aaron Boone made a decision to put him in the lead and send DJ LeMahieu to the fifth, where his bat was required more after Giancarlo Stanton went down with a strained hamstring. He has reached base at least once in eight of his previous 12 games, earning a .442 on-base percentage during that span.

Anthony Volpe’s 2-for-3 outstanding performance, which included a two-run double, three runs scored, and two walks came on the day Aaron Judge led the Yankees to a big victory over Minnesota. There was a run-scoring single in the second and an RBI double in the fourth.

He struck out in his first at-bat, but Anthony Volpe followed with an RBI single and a two-run double in his following at-bat. He came around to score on both of those base hits, and he added a third run in the eighth after walking and scoring on a LeMahieu sacrifice fly. Anthony Volpe’s big-league debut has been a mixed bag, but he’s hit safely in six of his last eight games, including three multi-hit games and five RBI.

Boone lavished admiration on Anthony Volpe

Aaron Boone considered resting Anthony Volpe on Wednesday, but the rookie shortstop ended up leading off. Boone probably doesn’t regret his decision.

“He’s been terrific,” remarked Boone. “He keeps hitting the ball hard, too. I was considering giving him a day off today too. The at-bats, especially as we go through this stretch, have just been really consistent with him. More of that today at the top.”

The rookie’s three RBI tied Aaron Judge and the Twins’ Jose Miranda for the game lead, and they helped the Yankees take an early lead.

Anthony Volpe’s hits sparked an offense that had been quiet in recent days, but it was his walks and overall patience that earned him praise in the Yankees clubhouse afterward. Volpe, on the other hand, has shown a keen eye at the plate from Opening Day.

He started his career with a .180 average in his first 60 plate appearances, but Anthony Volpe still had an on-base percentage above.300.

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Against the Twins, the Yankees scored 12 runs in Game 3 making it the most in a game this season (the previous high was 11, on April 11 vs Cleveland). The attacking outburst came after they had only scored eight runs in their previous five games.

“He’s had really good at-bats for a while now,” added Rizzo. “Even when he isn’t getting hits, he’s still getting deep in the count.”

“Hopefully, he keeps hitting and developing.”

Aaron Judge admires Anthony Volpe in the leadoff

Anthony Volpe’s average is now .228 with a .358 on-base percentage. Those marks jump to .280 and .400 over his last seven games and .292 and .424 over his last 15.

Aaron Judge and Anthony Volpe during the game against the Twins at Target Field on April 26, 2023.

The young shortstop admitted to feeling frustrated when hits didn’t come easily, but conversations with Yankees veterans reminded him that baseball’s lengthy season had peaks and valleys, and he was still fitting in. When he had an error, his accountability and positive attitude impressed his coach and garnered praise from fans.

Rather than trying to swing his way out of an early-career slump, Anthony Volpe stuck with the strategy that took him to the big leagues, as Rizzo highlighted.

“I definitely tried to not change anything and not really put too much into the results,” said Volpe, who takes pride in controlling the zone. “I felt like if the results weren’t there and I was kind of chasing, then I’d kind of be worried about where I was at. But when I knew that I wasn’t doing anything like that and just staying myself, I felt like I was going to be okay.”

Anthony Volpe has been leading off since Stanton was sidelined in mid-April, after starting the season at the ninth hole. This led the Yankees to change their strategy and send LeMahieu, their go-to leadoff man since joining the team in 2019, to the middle of the lineup.

Judge, the Yankees’ regular No. 2 batter, explained the contrasts between LeMahieu and the faster Anthony Volpe at the top of the order.

“DJ, you’re gonna see eight pitches when he’s up there. He’s gonna foul some stuff off, take some good pitches. He’s probably gonna be on first base. He’ll usually drive a baseball,” Judge said. “And then a guy like Anthony, his singles turn into triples easy. He’ll get on first base, but you give him two pitches, he’ll be on second. You give him another pitch, he’ll be on third. They both offer different things. I know with Anthony, I just gotta put the ball in play and he’s probably gonna get to third or score. It’s a fun two guys to have hitting in front of you, that’s for sure.”

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