The Yankees may have a 22-year-old All-Star this season

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have started the 2024 season red-hot with an 8–2 record, winning their third consecutive series over the weekend. Aside from the usual suspects of dominance, including Juan Soto and Aaron Judge, even Giancarlo Stanton is starting to heat up and provide great at-bats.

It is easy to overlook some of the other contributors on the roster, but one of the Yankees’ brightest lights over the first 10 games of the season has been 22-year-old shortstop Anthony Volpe.

Volpe is dominating over a small sample, ranking second in the MLB in WAR, collecting 0.9, just behind Mookie Betts. At this pace, Volpe would win the MVP, but we can expect a natural regression over the course of the season, considering he’s already collected half his WAR in just nine games compared to the 159 games he played in 2023 as a rookie. It is safe to say he’s made some significant improvements.

Volpe is excited about the hot star, knowing that he can compound this growth and momentum.

“I think it’s motivating, just knowing I can keep building off of it,” Volpe said of his hot start.

The Yankees Are Seeing a Completely Different Player

Watching the young infielder take developmental steps has been exciting, and there’s nobody with a better work ethic — Volpe loves being a Yankee, and it has been his dream ever since his childhood.

This season, he’s hitting .424/.486/.606, including one homer, three RBIs, nine runs, and three stolen bases. His strikeout rate is nearly 10% less than his rookie season, currently sitting at 18.4%. His walk rate has settled in at 10.5%, nearly a 2% increase, and finally reaching double digits. His 226 wRC+ indicates he’s been 126% better than the average MLB hitter, which is almost mind-boggling.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Catcher Jose Trevino has witnessed every step of this process, but he’s never quite seen a young player adapt the way that Volpe has after one season.

“I feel like I’ve seen a handful of guys his age kind of do their thing, but not that quick,” Jose Trevino said. “He is responding to the game out there at a different level [from last year], he is responding to the adjustments he has made. From my seat, it is just so much fun to watch.” 

Aside from his dominance in the batter’s box, Volpe’s also been excellent defensively. He won a Gold Glove as a rookie in 2023, posting a franchise record 15 defensive runs saved, and he’s already on pace to beat that mark.

Over 82 innings this season, Volpe has already earned three defensive runs saved and matched his out above average with one. If we expanded that pace over his defensive 1,346 innings last year, he would have a whopping 50 defensive runs saved, but that is an unrealistic mark to consider. However, it is extremely likely at this point in time that he crosses the 15 defensive runs saved with ease.

“He’s starting to look like that complete, well-rounded, really good player,” Aaron Boone said. 

Anthony Volpe Is Becoming an All-Around Star

As mentioned, Volpe is developing into a balanced player, but let’s take a look at one important metric regarding batting proficiency.

When it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position, Volpe is night and day compared to his rookie season. This year, he’s hitting .333/.667/.333, including a 1.000 OPS. He’s collected two RBIs with three walks and zero strikeouts over six plate appearances. Of course, the sample is small, but he’s been disciplined in the batter’s box rather than erratic and unpredictable, expanding the zone in the past and condensing it in the present.

In addition to his obvious production, Volpe has also managed to increase his sprint speed from the 78th percentile to the 86th percentile, so he should be more effective on the base paths and demolish his 24 stolen bases mark from last year.

As you can see, we are not looking at the same Anthony Volpe that we saw during his rookie season at just 21 years old; this is what most stars look like after five years, so the Bombers have the luxury of utilizing him in the bottom half of the order. However, if he continues to play at this level, promoting him to the lead-off spot for the foreseeable future seems like a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if.’

Mentioned in this article:

More about: