Yankees making moves at leadoff hitter to open spring training

mlb: new york yankees at toronto blue jays, anthony volpe
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are preparing to face off against the Detroit Tigers in their first spring training of the year on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 PM. While most of the team’s stars won’t be involved, their youngsters will be the prominent faces scattered throughout the batting order.

In fact, the Yankees are trying to get an early taste of what Anthony Volpe would look like batting lead-off, a spot they want to develop him to play long-term. For now, DJ LeMahieu is expected to fill the lead-off position to open the 2024 season, but Volpe can boost his batting average and on-base percentage, so he would be the ideal player to fill that role.

Anthony Volpe’s Development Focus

Volpe, 22, hit .209/.283/.383 over his first 159 MLB games. He barely missed any time last season, slapping 21 homers with 60 RBIs, including a 27.8% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk rate.

Volpe has been working diligently to flatten out his swing and make better contact more frequently. He hosted a 14.2° launch angle last season, so we should expect that to drop a few degrees, which should provide more line drives and maximize his abilities on the base paths. Trying to elevate the ball too much got him in a bit of trouble in the strikeout department, so expect him to be focused on quality contact and getting on base rather than hitting home runs.

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Volpe’s Role and Expectations With the Yankees

Volpe did enjoy 123 appearances leading off last season but hit only .191/.276/.345. Obviously, his numbers as a rookie need to be taken with a grain of salt, so anticipating a positive trend during his sophomore season — the Yankees could get exactly what they’re looking for.

Defensively, Volpe set a franchise record with 15 defensive runs saved and won a Gold Glove as a rookie. That is more than the Yankees could’ve asked for, so now he needs to piece together his offensive game plan and find a good balance between power and quality contact.

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