Yankees’ Anthony Volpe emerges as Gold Glove contender

New York Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe will make his MLB debut on Thursday, starting on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.

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MLB and Rawlings have unveiled the highly-anticipated list of 2023 Gold Glove finalists for both the National and American Leagues, and it’s clear that the New York Yankees have a strong presence in the running for these prestigious honors. One of the most exciting developments this season has been the emergence of Anthony Volpe, who, at a tender age, burst onto the Yankees’ roster right out of spring training.

He now stands as one of the top three finalists in the shortstop category, a remarkable feat for a young player. Joining him in this prestigious category are the talented Carlos Correa from the Minnesota Twins and Corey Seager from the Texas Rangers.

Despite his rookie status, Anthony Volpe exhibited incredible fielding prowess, appearing in 159 games and maintaining a fielding percentage of .970. While he did commit 17 errors throughout the season, his performance is truly remarkable, particularly for a player so early in his career. Volpe’s Outs Above Average (OAA) stood at 1, matching Correa’s statistics in the same category. In contrast, Seager posted an OAA of -1. Furthermore, Volpe managed to prevent one run during the season, outclassing Correa, who had zero runs prevented, and Seager, who lagged with -1 in the same category.

Volpe’s stats

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Anthony Volpe‘s rookie season was a rollercoaster ride filled with both triumphs and tribulations. Hailing from Watchung, New Jersey, the 22-year-old shortstop had always dreamt of wearing the iconic pinstripes of the New York Yankees. In a twist of fate, he was thrust into the spotlight as “the next Derek Jeter,” creating enormous expectations for the young talent.

The Yankees placed their faith in Volpe, turning down star free agent shortstops like Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Trea Turner. After a stellar performance in Double-A and a brief stint in Triple-A, he was handed the starting shortstop role for the 2023 season.

However, Volpe’s transition to the big leagues revealed both his potential and his challenges. On the downside, his offensive struggles were evident, with a low batting average and a high strikeout rate. These issues mirrored his performance in Triple-A the previous year, contrasting starkly with his impressive stats in the lower minor leagues.

Throughout his journey to the majors, Volpe boasted impressive wRC+ figures, but this declined to 84 against Major League pitching in 2023. As a result, he faced prolonged slumps during the season, with his batting average dipping as low as .186 in June.

Yet, this challenging season was a blessing in disguise. Volpe’s struggles allowed him to learn, adapt, and make the necessary adjustments to his game. When he did, the results were remarkable. In June, he improved his slash line, and in August, he had his most productive month, smashing seven homers. His base running skills were a significant asset for the Yankees, stealing 24 bases with an 83% success rate, making him the first rookie in Yankees history to join the 20-20 club.

Volpe’s inconsistent offense was offset by his consistent and exceptional defense at shortstop. He earned high marks for his fielding, with impressive Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and defensive runs saved (DRS) figures. His exceptional defensive skills even put him in contention for the Gold Glove Award.

Furthermore, Volpe became one of only two rookies in MLB history to achieve a 20-20 season while saving at least 10 runs defensively, putting him in elite company with Mike Trout.

Anthony Volpe’s rookie season may not have made him a finalist for the AL Rookie of the Year, but it showcased his potential. While his batting was inconsistent, his defense and base running skills shone brightly. With a full year of MLB experience under his belt, the young shortstop has ample room to grow and evolve into a true five-tool player. It’s time to stop comparing him to Derek Jeter and let him become the next Anthony Volpe, making a name for himself in the storied history of the New York Yankees.

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