The Yankees are playing a risky hand this upcoming season at some positions, notably the starting rotation. However, they feel confident about their infield, consisting of a mix of veterans and younger players.
Yankees’ Infield Composition and Expectations
Of course, the team has linchpins like DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo, not to mention Gleyber Torres heading into his final year of arbitration, but second-year shortstop Anthony Volpe projects to take a big step forward in 2024.
The 22-year-old enjoyed his rookie season in 2023, playing 159 games, hitting .209/.283/.383, including 21 home runs, 60 RBIs, and stealing 24 bases. He finished with a 27.8% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk rate, recording an 84 wRC+, indicating he was 16% worse than the average MLB hitter.
Offensive Adjustments and Potential
Volpe knows his work is cut out for him offensively, especially as he tries to reduce his strikeout percentage and boost his quality contact. He did manage a 42.7% hard-hit rate and 9% barrel rate, two adequate numbers that suggest he made decent contact, just not enough of it. Hitting 21 homers certainly suggests he has a power stroke that results in homers, which is a valuable trait given he expects to bat 9th in the order to open the season.
Defensive Excellence and Future Prospects
However, Volpe showcased most of his production on the defensive side last year. He won a Gold Glove at shortstop, enjoying a .970 fielding percentage, including a franchise-high 15 defensive runs saved over 1,346.2 innings. Many were concerned about his arm strength at shortstop, but it didn’t seem to be much of a problem. In fact, the Yankees dropped a video of Volpe displaying his footwork with spring training just a few days away.
Long-term, the Yankees hope that Volpe can develop into their primary lead-off hitter, given his ability to steal bases and make an impact offensively. However, his defensive prowess shouldn’t be disregarded, especially coming off a Gold Glove-winning season at 21 years old.