Yankees face a unique challenge over Anthony Volpe’s exceptional talent

Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe tags out Arizona shortstop Jordan Lawlar at Yankee Stadium on September 24, 2023.

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The Yankees are in awe of Anthony Volpe. This talented rookie ranks among the finest in the American League. His elevated baseball intelligence and finely tuned skills have enabled him to surpass the expectations associated with his physical attributes. But this has posed a problem for the Yankees, according to MLB insider Andy Martino.

With his immaculate defensive display, Anthony Volpe at a mere $720k leaves behind an assortment of the top MLB shortstops who together cost $1.3 billion. However, Martino still continues to stress how the baseball world sees him moving to second base and vacating the shortstop position for rookie teammate Oswald Peraza.

The insider cited an opposing manager claiming that the Yankees face a pivotal question: How would they manage to shift Anthony Volpe away from shortstop if he were to win the Gold Glove?

Are the Yankees willing to move Anthony Volpe to 2B?

anthony-volpe-yankees
NY Post

Nonetheless, for the upcoming season, the optimal defensive configuration, according to many MLB analysts, places Anthony Volpe at second base alongside Oswald Peraza at shortstop. This statement doesn’t diminish the rookie’s status as an exceptionally talented young player with the potential for perennial All-Star recognition. It’s simply an acknowledgment that, from a defensive standpoint, his style resembles that of Dustin Pedroia more than the prime years of Didi Gregorius.

During the offseason, a potential new complication may arise. Anthony Volpe could find himself as a Gold Glove finalist, alongside Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. and the reigning winner, Jeremy Pena from Houston. There’s even a chance he might secure the award. In such a scenario, what options do the Yankees have to consider?

According to an American League infield coach, Wander Franco possesses the most exceptional range, although it’s acknowledged that he won’t be winning the award due to his current administrative league status while MLB investigates an alleged involvement with a minor. The coach further noted that, in their opinion, Anthony Volpe’s pre-pitch positioning, which is notably elevated, places him on par with regard to lateral range. When compared to the Rays’ star, Anthony Volpe is considered one of the best in this aspect.

Let’s take a moment to elaborate on what the coach is referring to when mentioning “pre-pitch.” If you happen to attend a game (as this is typically not visible on television broadcasts), observe each infielder’s movements as the pitcher initiates and completes their delivery. You’ll notice that some infielders take a few steps forward, while others adopt a lower stance closer to the ground.

Three Yankees infielders, namely Anthony Volpe, Peraza stationed at third base, and second baseman Gleyber Torres, execute a synchronized upward leap, lifting their feet off the ground. This technique is also utilized by the Mets’ outstanding shortstop, Francisco Lindor. He clarified that the objective is for his “feet to touch the ground precisely as the pitch is being released.”

USATSI

Anthony Volpe’s jump is notably elevated, providing him with the impetus to cover ground in either direction when the ball is put into play. This ability allows him to exceed the expectations associated with his fielding skills, which are typically rated between 50 and 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale by most scouts.

Yankees shortstop: Volpe vs. Peraza debate

In essence, having Anthony Volpe as their shortstop would be a valuable asset for any team. However, what happens when that team also has Peraza, whose skills are rated even higher than Anthony Volpe’s for the same position?

It’s important to note that scouting grades encompass a degree of subjectivity, as do performance metrics. Nevertheless, the consensus among evaluators is that Peraza’s fielding skills tend to be superior to Anthony Volpe’s, often grading at approximately 60.

The disparity between their skills is not substantial. The notable contrast between the two primarily emerges in the realm of arm strength, a critical attribute for a shortstop. According to the tool rankings devised by the seasoned Yankees‘ player development expert, Bill Livesey, the arm or throwing ability is the second most crucial among the five tools for a shortstop.

Interestingly, for a third baseman, it ranks as the fourth most vital tool, implying that Peraza’s impressive 60 arm strength is somewhat underutilized in that position. In contrast, Anthony Volpe’s arm is typically assessed by evaluators at a grade of 45 or 50.

Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza seen together following their remarkable defensive display vs. the Royals at Yankee Stadium on July 21, 2023.
NYY

According to a prominent scout, Anthony Volpe’s arm strength is likely around 45, but he effectively leverages it to perform at a level closer to 50. The scout notes that as the season progresses and fatigue sets in, Anthony Volpe’s arm may regress to more of a 45 rating, whereas Peraza’s arm strength is evidently considerably superior.

This was evident during Tuesday night’s game in Toronto when Peraza, who was positioned at shortstop, skillfully fielded a ground ball in the gap near left-center field. He then unleashed a powerful throw to first base, reminiscent of a missile in flight. The play was so impressive that the Yankees’ social media team shared the highlight on Twitter.

Is it feasible for the front office and manager Aaron Boone to overlook this situation heading into the next season, solely because Anthony Volpe secured the position first? And what if he goes on to win the Gold Glove?

While it might be considered a favorable predicament to contend with, it remains a quandary for the Yankees that requires a solution.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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One thought on “Yankees face a unique challenge over Anthony Volpe’s exceptional talent

  1. What is outstanding about a .215 hitter that strikes out over 30% of his time. The days of good field no hit SS is LONG over.
    And quoting opinion of Yankee player development guy? What player development? Yanks have been a total flop in player development for over 20 yrs now. Whatever he recommends Yanks should do the opposite

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