Yankees’ rising shortstop primed for a big step forward in 2024

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Miami Marlins
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The Yankees allocated significant capital to upgrade their outfield this off-season, but they’re still relying on several young players to step up to the plate in 2024.

Notably, 22-year-old shortstop Anthony Volpe will carry a lot of weight going into his sophomore season, and he certainly put in the time and work this off-season to take a developmental leap.

Volpe struggled in 2023 over 159 games. He hit .209/.283/.383 but managed 21 homers, 60 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases. He recorded a 42.7% hard-hit rate at a 9% barrel rate with an 88.7 average exit velocity. Those numbers aren’t bad, but he made frequent contact and needs more consistency with his plate discipline. Even Volpe acknowledged that he’s trying to bring his strikeout rate down and maintain standards.

“I’ve dedicated my whole life to being the type of hitter that I’m capable of being and if I’m not up to those standards, I’ll try to corner them,” Volpe said the other day. “But even if the (striking out) wasn’t as bad as it was, I’d still feel like I wasn’t living up to what I’m capable of.”

Via NJ.com

Volpe has fixed his swing slightly, cementing his base and having more control over his front foot. Instead of leaning into a swing, Volpe is operating with more balance, keeping his head in place instead of leveraging his lower body to create power and loft. Manager Aaron has seen his progress and has indicated his bats have improved in quality.

“I think it’s going well,” manager Aaron Boone said. “He looks really good to me at the plate. Whether it ends in a (good) result or not, I feel like his at-bats have been really solid.”

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The Yankees Are Seeing Tangible Improvements From Anthony Volpe

Volpe’s chase rate and strikeout percentage were more problematic last season, and he worked diligently over the winter to hone in on his fundamentals. Creating a stronger base that lends itself to better discipline will promote stronger numbers. This spring, Volpe is only striking out at a 13% clip, hitting .400/.478/.550, including two RBIs and three stolen bases over eight games.

“There’s just a noticeable difference in what I think is going to lend itself to being a little more coverage throughout the strike zone and versatile in the strike zone. Whether you want to say that he’s flatter, it was apparent the first time we saw him hit that there’s been some over-the-offseason adjustments that I think should serve him well.”

In a perfect world, Volpe would play well enough to take over the lead-off spot in the batting order, shifting DJ LeMahieu further down. With his speed, getting on base at a higher clip would play perfectly into Juan Soto and Aaron Judge’s contributions.

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