Yankees’ leadoff concerns are being quelled by star shortstop

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays, anthony volpe
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees started the 2024 season with uncertainty at the top of their batting order. Gleyber Torres was initially slated as the leadoff hitter, but a tough start pushed him further down the lineup despite some recent improvements.

Volpe’s Adjustment to the Yankees’ Leadoff Role

In the absence of DJ LeMahieu, who is still recovering from a right foot injury, the Yankees have relied on Anthony Volpe to fill the leadoff spot. Initially thriving in the sixth and seventh spots in the order, Volpe’s transition to leadoff has been challenging. Over 127 at-bats in this position, he has hit .236/.322/.362, including three home runs, 15 RBIs, and 34 strikeouts.

However, there are signs of adaptation and improvement; in the last seven days alone, the 23-year-old infielder has hit .370/.414/.593 over 27 at-bats, gathering 10 hits, one home run, five RBIs, and eight strikeouts, culminating in a 1.006 OPS.

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees, anthony volpe
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Volpe’s Overall Season Performance and Development

Overall, Volpe’s season stats are commendable. He’s batting .269 with a .351 on-base percentage and boasts a 126 wRC+, indicating he’s 26% better than the average MLB hitter. His strikeout rate has decreased by about 5%, and his walk rate has increased to 10%. Impressively, he has already accumulated 2.0 WAR this season, matching his total from 159 games in 2023.

Manager Aaron Boone has expressed confidence in Volpe as the long-term solution at leadoff, although he has been cautious about rushing him into this role due to potential impacts on his confidence. Despite the initial challenges, Volpe has embraced the opportunity and shown remarkable resilience and improvement.

Defensively, Volpe has excelled, logging 374 innings at shortstop with four defensive runs saved and six outs above average, maintaining a .977 fielding percentage. His defensive prowess, combined with his offensive improvements, underscores his growth and vital role on the team. Moreover, he has demonstrated clutch performance with runners in scoring position, hitting .290 with a .436 OBP, further solidifying his status as a key player for the Yankees as they navigate the season.

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