The Yankees might have to make a difficult decision at leadoff

MLB: Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees, anthony volpe
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The Yankees‘ offense is heavily dependent on the performances of stars Aaron Judge and Juan Soto. This dependency underscores the team’s significant investments in these players, including Judge’s nine-year, $360 million extension and the acquisition of Soto, whom they hope to extend as well.

MVP-Caliber Performances and Upcoming Trade Deadline

Aaron Judge is currently having another MVP-caliber season, boasting a .321 batting average, .440 on-base percentage, and .718 slugging percentage, with 32 home runs and 83 RBIs in just 85 games. Despite Judge’s exceptional performance, the Yankees face several challenges that need addressing at the upcoming trade deadline, particularly in the infield and bullpen.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, aaron judge
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The Yankees’ Lead-Off Dilemma

A specific concern has emerged at the lead-off spot, a role that Anthony Volpe has occupied for several months due to a lack of better options. Volpe, while a potential long-term solution, is experiencing a regression in performance, with an on-base percentage of just .311, which is problematic given his position ahead of Soto and Judge in the batting order. Over 86 games, Volpe has hit .257 with six homers and 28 RBIs, earning a 100 wRC+ and marking him as an average hitter for the year.

Volpe’s Struggles and Defensive Prowess

Although Volpe shows promise defensively, with a .979 fielding percentage, four defensive runs saved, and an outstanding 11 outs above average, his offensive inconsistency is a concern. With a .196 batting average with runners in scoring position, his effectiveness in crucial moments is limited. The pressure of leading off has not helped, as he performs better lower in the order.

MLB: New York Yankees at San Diego Padres, anthony volpe
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Potential Changes and Cashman’s Challenge

As the trade deadline approaches, General Manager Brian Cashman faces the challenge of finding a player who can take over the lead-off spot effectively. The ideal candidate would have a solid batting average and an on-base percentage of at least 35%. Current options within the team, including DJ LeMahieu and Alex Verdugo, are struggling, and Gleyber Torres, despite a recent upswing, is having a notably poor season overall.

Cashman will have to make a big deadline move and, ideally, a player with a solid batting average and at least an on-base percentage above 35%, which would give the Yankees a solution at lead-off and allow them to be more flexible with Volpe the rest of the way.

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