Yankees belief building over sophomore Anthony Volpe breakout after swing tweak

Yankees stars Anthony Volpe and Gleyber Torres are at their spring training camp in February 2024.

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Upon his return to the Yankees organization in the offseason, hitting coach James Rowson was greeted by a player already demonstrating proactive efforts to improve his swing. Anthony Volpe, despite falling short of offensive expectations in 2023 under the guidance of two previous hitting coaches, had begun independently refining his swing mechanics.

While achieving the notable feat of becoming the first-ever Yankees rookie to reach the 20-20 club (20 home runs, 20 stolen bases), the Gold Glove shortstop faced offensive challenges throughout the season. He finished with a .209 batting average, a .283 on-base percentage, an 81 OPS+ (Offensive Power Stat), and struck out 167 times.

Anthony Volpe admitted while talking to the Daily News that he hadn’t been a good 2023 offensively at all and there was no way to cherry-pick anything positive from his performance. However, upon reflection, the rookies shortstop expressed gratitude for the experience, stating that it had taught him a lot and provided a foundation for what he aimed to work on during the offseason and the upcoming year.

Anthony Volpe adopts swing adjustments as part of winter grind

Anthony Volpe, the Yankees rookie shortstop, is at an indoor training season.
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During the offseason, the 22-year-old shortstop focused on refining his batting approach, specifically aiming to improve his bat path. Anthony Volpe observed veteran teammates in 2023, noting their swings allowed for a “greater margin for error” due to the space and length in their swings, enabling them to generate power even when slightly off-balance.

“So that’s kind of what I went for,” Anthony Volpe told.

Upon meeting with hitting coach James Rowson in Tampa in January, it was clear Anthony Volpe had already made significant adjustments to his swing mechanics.

The hitting coach heaps praise on Anthony Volpe, stating that he deserves all the credit in the world for his improvements. Rowson mentioned to The News that he had seen some video of Anthony Volpe from the previous year and had the opportunity to observe him during off-season workouts. He noted that the rookie had already made significant strides in correcting certain aspects of his game.

Rowson explained that Anthony Volpe had analyzed the video from the previous year, made adjustments on his own, and started working in the right direction. He added that the player’s swing looks really good at present, highlighting that his swing path has become cleaner and continues to improve with each passing day.

Yankees captain, manager too bet on Anthony Volpe

Rowson isn’t the sole admirer of Anthony Volpe’s adjustments. Aaron Judge praised the young player’s refined bat path upon the arrival of position players, and Aaron Boone has repeatedly noted that the alterations are clearly visible.

The manager added that the rookie’s posture has improved, noting that he’s not sinking down as much and coming up through. Boone also pointed out a noticeable difference, indicating that Anthony Volpe is handling more pitches effectively at different points in the strike zone.

In the three spring training games played so far, Anthony Volpe has collected two hits, including an RBI triple against the Rays on February 24th. Notably, he has yet to record a strikeout or walk.

While describing the adjustments as a “work in progress,” Anthony Volpe felt “comfortable” with the changes after putting them to the test in action. Before that, he expressed that the adjustments were feeling quite natural to him. The shortstop noted that he wasn’t really thinking about them during gameplay and described them as minor tweaks aimed at maximizing room for error and adaptability. According to him, having such flexibility built into his swing was crucial because he believed that players rarely execute a perfect swing throughout the season as frequently as many might assume.

Anthony Volpe enters his second season with the Yankees aiming to address his strikeout issues. Last year, he recorded a strikeout rate of 27.8%, among the highest in Major League Baseball, with his chase and whiff rate also exceeding 28%.

Both Anthony Volpe and the Yankees believe that adjustments to his batting approach, particularly his bat path, will lead to a reduction in strikeouts. Hitting coach James Rowson expects the improved bat path to allow Volpe to better handle pitches within the strike zone, leveraging his power potential evidenced by his 21 home runs in 2023. Additionally, gaining more experience facing major league pitching is expected to contribute to his development and strikeout reduction.

Rowson explained that the adjustments afforded more time, enabling better tracking of the ball and closer approach. Consequently, it was noted that the ability to make improved decisions was enhanced, along with the opportunity to cover a broader range of the strike zone and make solid contact with pitches within it.

Volpe tackles strikeouts, eyes improved base stealing

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Anthony Volpe acknowledges that his high strikeout rate in his rookie season (27.8%) stemmed from several factors. He admits to a tendency to chase pitches outside the zone with two strikes and a habit of fouling off pitches he could have attacked earlier in the count.

Furthermore, Anthony Volpe seeks to improve his plate discipline and decision-making at the plate to increase his walk rate. While he started the season well in this area, his walk rate declined later in the year.

This decline in walks impacted his stolen base opportunities. Though he finished the season with 24 stolen bases, Anthony Volpe attempted only 10 in the second half compared to 19 in the first. Manager Aaron Boone suggests that opposing teams adjusted their pitching strategy against Volpe after witnessing his speed on the bases. However, the rookie recognizes that his own struggles with on-base percentage also contributed to the decrease in stolen base attempts.

Anthony Volpe’s speed suggests that he could potentially become a suitable leadoff candidate in the future, provided he improves his ability to make contact with the ball and manages the strike zone more effectively. However, Rowson emphasized that he didn’t want to limit the evolving infielder to any specific role.

“When this guy figures it out, we don’t know yet what he’s going to be capable of,” Rowson said. “Who knows where he can hit in the order?

According to Rowson, once Anthony Volpe consistently figures it out, he will become an elite type of hitter. He added that at that point, it would depend on who is around him, what the team wants to do, and how they want to utilize him.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Yankees belief building over sophomore Anthony Volpe breakout after swing tweak

  1. I saw Volpe play 5 times in AA, and I was convinced from the 1st time I saw him through the 5th time that he was a future MLB starter who could potentially hit .280-.300+, with 25+ HR power & a lot of doubles & triples.

    I’m glad to see that Volpe sees the value in making his swing more compact to cut down on Ks & stop fouling off hittable pitches in the strike zone.

    However, I don’t understand why he’s still starting his swing with his hands about 5 INCHES ABOVE HIS SHOULDERS. Yes, he brings his hands down to shoulder height or lower, AS HE STARTS HIS SWING, but that’s largely wasted motion, making it harder to get to pitches low & away in the strike zone, which are the pitches that Volpe looked terrible against in 2023.

    If you think I’m talking over my head, look at the video of the MLB Network “Breaking Down Aaron Judge’s Swing.”

    One thing that’s Immediately Noticeable is that JUDGE’s BOTTOM HAND IS ALWAYS BELOW HIS SHOULDERS, even when he starts his body turn & starts his hands back to generate more power; and JUDGE’S RIGHT (top) HAND IS NEVER HIGHER THEN HIS SHOULDER.

    Note: If you watch a video of GARY SHEFFIELD, who’s hands were far more active than Judge’s before the pitch, you’ll see Sheffield’s hands were consistently At or Well Below his shoulders before the pitch.

    Having your hands at or below shoulder height gives a hitter more time to quickly react to a pitch, especially low & away, the pitches that gave Volpe so much trouble last year.

    Raising your hands higher than your shoulder gives you a False Sense of greater power, but it mainly increases the time it takes to get the barrel of the bat to the ball.

    I also just studied a 10-minute video of DEREK JETER’s swing over his career on YouTube. Very early in his career, his hands were several inches above his shoulders, but after just a few years, as he grew smarter-and-smarter as a hitter, he moved his hands Down to Shoulder Height or lower. That’s one of the reasons Jeter could flip hundreds of balls into right field for hits: because his lowered hands allowed him more time to react to & get to those pitches.

    So, while I hope the changes that Volpe’s made will result in a far better batting average this year, with fewer Ks, I wish Volpe would LOWER HIS HANDS to shoulder height or lower (like Judge) to start his swing.

    Every additional inch your hands have to travel to get the bat head to the ball is largely waisted time & energy.

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