Boone cites Torres’ failure to justify his flip-flop on Anthony Volpe’s leadoff role

Yankees' Anthony Volpe runs after hitting a home run against Miami on April 9, 2024, at Yankee Stadium.
By Rav
Thursday April 11, 2024

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Just a day after saying he wasn’t quite ready to make the change, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has installed highly-touted rookie Anthony Volpe as the team’s new leadoff hitter.

The decision comes as part of a broader shuffle to the Yankees’ batting order, with second baseman Gleyber Torres being dropped down to the 6th spot after previously hitting first.

Boone explained that elevating the 22-year-old to the leadoff role was the logical move, given the need to find a new spot for Torres in the lineup. The Yankees skipper had been publicly hesitant about the change, but ultimately decided the time was right to put Anthony Volpe atop the order.

The move represents a vote of confidence in Anthony Volpe, who is hoping to establish himself as the Yankees’ long-term solution at shortstop after a promising start to his MLB career.

Before his team’s 5-2 loss to the Marlins in the series finale in The Bronx, the Yankees’ manager commented on Anthony’s resilience, noting that despite his youth, Anthony is someone he doesn’t fret over concerning various situations. The manager expressed admiration for Anthony’s at-bats and confidence in his abilities at the plate. He also mentioned that Anthony’s position in the batting order doesn’t affect his identity as a player.

“Even though Anthony’s young, he’s one of those guys I don’t worry about being affected by different things,” Boone said before the game. “Obviously love his at-bats, comfortable having him up there. … Where he’s hitting I don’t think impacts who he is as a player or anything like that.”

Yankees rookie Anthony Volpe continued his impressive start to the season, reaching base three times in five at-bats during a loss to the Marlins. The 22-year-old shortstop walked twice, singled, and now boasts an excellent .372/.460/.581 slash line with a 1.041 OPS, 2 home runs, and 6 RBIs.

Anthony Volpe’s strong play prompted manager Aaron Boone to elevate him to the leadoff spot in the lineup on Wednesday. However, Boone cautioned that the move may not be permanent, calling the situation “fluid” and saying he’s not in a “real hurry” to cement Volpe atop the order long-term.

Yankees' Anthony hits at Yankee Stadium during the game against Toronto on April 7, 2024.

What caused Boone’s U-turn on Anthony Volpe

This represents a significant U-turn from just a day earlier when Boone had suggested he wasn’t ready to make Anthony Volpe the Yankees’ full-time leadoff hitter. The reversal appears to be driven by Volpe’s hot start and the struggles of second baseman Gleyber Torres, who was previously occupying the leadoff role.

Boone mentioned that there might come a time when Anthony Volpe would naturally fit into that position in the lineup. He also expressed his belief that in the long term, perhaps within 10 years, the rookie’s future lies at the top of the lineup, as that aligns with his inherent qualities as a player.

“There may be a day when he becomes a natural fit up there,” Boone said at the time. “So that’s always in there. I do feel like when we look up in 10 years, that’s where his future is going to be, at the top of the lineup. That’s who he is.”

The Yankees didn’t wait long to install top prospect Anthony Volpe as their new leadoff hitter. Despite previously suggesting he wasn’t ready to make Anthony Volpe the full-time leadoff man, manager Aaron Boone pulled the trigger on the move after just a few weeks of the season.

Anthony Volpe, who was hitting .375 at the time, found himself batting first for the Yankees in their Wednesday matchup against the Marlins. The 22-year-old shortstop had mostly hit 6th or 7th in the order to start the year, though the team did experiment with him in the leadoff spot late last season.

Boone cited the need to get struggling second baseman Gleyber Torres closer to the middle of the lineup as the key reason behind the switch. Torres had been struggling to produce while batting leadoff, prompting Boone to drop him down to 6th in the order.

The move represents a show of faith in Anthony Volpe’s early-season success and ability to thrive in the leadoff role.

Boone expressed his belief that Gleyber is close to finding his rhythm at the plate. He observed that although Gleyber’s at-bats have been solid, there seems to be some pressure on him to perform in the leadoff spot. Boone confidently stated his belief that Gleyber will eventually find success, anticipating a productive season ahead. He emphasized that regardless of his position in the lineup, Gleyber will contribute significantly to the team’s offense.

“I feel like Gleyber’s on the verge of really getting it going,” Boone said. “I do feel the at-bats have been good, but I feel like he’s pressed a little bit to get it going in that [leadoff] spot. Gleyber’s gonna hit. I really believe Gleyber’s gonna have a big year. Wherever Gleyber is hitting, he’s gonna get it rolling and be a big part of this offense.”

Gleyber Torres is at Yankees 2024 spring training camp.

What lies ahead for Torres

Yankees manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that second baseman Gleyber Torres prefers hitting leadoff. However, Boone said the decision to move Torres down in the order was driven by his early-season struggles at the plate.

Entering Wednesday’s game, Torres was batting just .200/.281/.240 on the year. Boone noted that Torres’ worst career numbers have come when he’s hit in the leadoff spot, despite the player’s personal preference for that role.

“Gleyber really likes hitting leadoff, and that’s a factor in this,” Boone told reporters. “But the results just haven’t been there for him up top.”

By dropping Torres down to 6th in the lineup, the Yankees hope to take some pressure off the 27-year-old and allow him to find a rhythm further down in the order. The move also paved the way for top prospect Anthony Volpe to take over as the team’s new leadoff hitter.

“I feel like if I left him there over time, he’d be Gleyber Torres and we’d see the results,” Boone said. “I do feel like he’s close to taking off.”

Despite moving Gleyber Torres out of the leadoff spot, Yankees manager Aaron Boone wants the 27-year-old to maintain his current approach at the plate. Boone noted that Torres has seen the most pitches of any Yankee this season, suggesting he hasn’t sacrificed his trademark aggressiveness by hitting first.

Anthony Rizzo and Anthony Volpe are at Minute Maid Park, Houston, on March 28, 2024, on the eve of the Yankees vs. Astros game.

The decision to elevate rookie Anthony Volpe to the leadoff role appears to be paying immediate dividends. Volpe, who hit just .209 with a .283 OBP and 167 strikeouts as a rookie last year, has dramatically improved his bat path and swing decisions in the early going.

Boone expressed confidence that the 22-year-old shortstop can handle the leadoff responsibilities, though he stopped short of committing to Volpe remaining atop the order long-term, saying “we’ll see” about the lineup arrangement going forward.

Boone said that the move to put Anthony Volpe in the leadoff spot could be something long-term, but that they would keep the situation fluid. He didn’t commit to the shortstop remaining at the top of the order permanently, stating they would see how things play out.

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