Could Yankees’ young infielder blossom into a 2024 All-Star?

mlb: new york yankees at tampa bay rays, anthony volpe

The New York Yankees‘ 2024 offense stands to gain significant ground after adding Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo to the mix this off-season. Soto is a Hall of Fame level bat at 25 years old who hit a career-high 35 homers in 2023, while Verdugo can leverage the short right porch in Yankee Stadium.

However, the improvement of young infielder Anthony Volpe may be paramount to their success. At just 22 years old, Volpe enjoyed his first season in the majors last year, undergoing some significant struggles. Despite those ups and downs, Volpe displayed flashes of brilliance, stealing 24 bases and hitting 21 homers with 60 RBIs.

The Yankees’ Gold Glove-winning shortstop hit .209/.283/.383, including a 27.8% strike-out rate, 8.7% walk rate and 84 wRC+. By those numbers, he was 16% worse than the average MLB player, but his ability to steal bags made him a threat and often distracted opposing pitchers. One thing we can guarantee is that Volpe is staring at those numbers a lot more than we are, working diligently to take a major step forward.

The expectation is that Volpe will fly down to Tampa much earlier than the team is required to attend, getting some extra work in before the 2024 campaign ramps up. If he can boost his batting average and on-base percentage, Volpe could become a tremendous number nine hitter, if not work his way into the lead off spot eventually. Ideally, Volpe would elevate his batting average to above 34%, allowing him to get on base early and steal bags to support Juan Soto and Aaron Judge behind him.

The Yankees Need Anthony Volpe to Take a Step Forward

In a perfect world, Volpe would be the team’s lead-off man for the next 10 years, but he still needs to take developmental steps in the right direction. At least, his defense is already stout by some advanced metrics. While he did record 17 errors over 1346.2 innings, Volpe enjoyed a .970 fielding percentage with 15 defensive runs saved, a franchise record at the position.

If he can run back his defensive campaign, if not improve gradually, while hitting above .260 and and on-base percentage over 34%, he could be in the All-Star conversation. Maintaining his power, hitting 20+ homers per season, situates his position as an integral part of the team’s offensive strategy. The assumption is he will be the last hitter in the Yankees’ lineup, which is a great problem to have, given he is trending in the right direction.

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