For just the second time this season, the New York Yankees started an infield composed of Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, resulting in phenomenal results. The Yankees obliterated the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon, winning 9–3. With Volpe manning his usual shortstop position and Peraza taking over at second base, the two combined for two runs, two RBIs, three walks, and a hit.
However, we also experienced significant defensive quality from both players, notably Peraza, who made a number of diving stops in the infield.
The Yankees may have displayed their best infield combination on Thursday, so let’s take a look at what the future could look like moving forward.
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The Yankees already have their ideal infield on the roster:
1B: Anthony Rizzo
Starting first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been tremendous to open the 2023 season. At 33 years old, Rizzo is hitting .344 with a .449 OBP, posting four homers and 10 RBIs with a 15.4% strikeout rate and 11.5% walk rate. He currently hosts a 192 wRC+ and has recorded 1.1 WAR across 18 games.
Of course, Rizzo’s position is cemented, and he is locked in for two seasons, which should make the Yankees very happy based on his numbers across 78 plate appearances.
2B: Oswald Peraza
Most would say Gleyber Torres should remain the starter at second base, but the future will undoubtedly have Oswald Peraza in the lineup unless the Yankees decide to trade him.
However, he’s an elite defensive player and has made a solid impact across two games. The sample size is small at just 10 plate appearances, but he’s hitting .286 with a .500 OBP and has made several defensive plays.
Against the Angels on Thursday, Peraza posted two RBIs with a walk and a hit, also scoring a run. Peraza is objectively a better defensive player than Torres, but he will go through streaks offensively, similar to his counterpart.
The long-term plan was always to get Peraza involved, but after losing the shortstop job to Volpe, it is just a matter of where he will play. It has been interesting to watch the Yankees reject his transition to third base, where he could be experiencing reps at the Triple-A level. Instead, he’s mainly been featuring a second, indicating Torres’s time could come to an end this year unless they need him as their designated hitter until Giancarlo Stanton returns.
SS: Anthony Volpe
The Yankees have been enjoying Anthony Volpe‘s growth the past few weeks, elevating his numbers recently. He’s only hitting .193 but has a .343 OBP and an 18.6% walk rate. He has one homer and two RBIs to his name, but he’s tied for 2nd in the MLB with eight stolen bases. Volpe has proven to be a tremendous defensive player across 162 innings, posting a perfect fielding percentage with four defensive runs saved and one out above average.
As long as Volpe continues to walk and get on base at an efficient clip, his impact offensively will remain consistent. Once he begins hitting the ball better and showcasing his underrated power, we will see him fully blossom into a star.
3B: DJ LeMahieu
Even though Josh Donaldson is making $25 million to play third base this season, the Yankees need to roll with the best player available. DJ LeMahieu is just that, considering he’s hitting .250 with a .344 OBP to start the season.
LeMahieu’s 29.7% strikeout rate is undoubtedly an anomaly, but he is a defensive maestro and is one of the team’s more important hitters with runners in scoring position. Against Los Angeles on Thursday, LeMahieu doubled to left field, driving in Rizzo and also scoring two runs of his own.
The Yankees have been utilizing DJ in the 5th spot recently, allowing Volpe to feature as the team’s primary lead-off hitter. The strategy has worked out well, so I expect manager Aaron Boone to continue utilizing that alignment.
Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see Donaldson’s role once he returns, especially if the Yankees decide to move Peraza back down to Scranton. The expectation is they will implement Peraza’s demotion, but he’s proven his worth and deserves to be at the MLB level for a number of reasons.