Yankees may be facing another difficult decision at leadoff

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles, anthony volpe
James A. Pittman-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees‘ offense has displayed extreme volatility at the start of the 2024 regular season. Just a few days ago, they amassed 30 combined runs over a two-game stretch against the Milwaukee Brewers, only to falter dramatically against the Baltimore Orioles, losing the series 3-1.

Currently, the Yankees boast the 12th-highest batting average in baseball but have struggled notably with runners in scoring position. They have hit 41 home runs, which ranks second behind the Baltimore Orioles and just ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies. Overall, they often appear more capable than in 2023, largely thanks to Juan Soto’s incredible production.

Despite a batting average of .270 and an on-base percentage of .354 with runners in scoring position, the Yankees have not capitalized as expected, hinting at a streak of bad luck.

Yankees Lineup Changes and Player Struggles

Recently, there’s been a significant drop in production at the top of the batting order, particularly with Anthony Volpe, who has struggled since being moved.

Initially batting sixth, Volpe hit .353/.476/.706, including a 1.182 OPS. Since shifting to the leadoff spot, his stats have dipped to .209/.299/.291, with a 590 OPS. This decline has become a liability ahead of power hitters like Soto and Aaron Judge, prompting considerations for further lineup adjustments upon DJ LeMahieu’s return.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, anthony volpe
Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

LeMahieu, currently recovering from a right foot injury, faced a setback last week after just one at-bat during a rehab game. He is expected to restart the rehab process soon, and the Yankees are optimistic about maximizing his offensive output. Initially, he will likely bat lower in the order and gradually move up as his performance improves.

Meanwhile, manager Aaron Boone is hesitant to shift Volpe from the leadoff spot despite the young player’s struggles. The 23-year-old Volpe is batting .262/.345/.389, with three home runs and 13 RBIs, along with seven stolen bases. His stats include a 117 wRC+, a 22.2% strikeout rate, and a 9.7% walk rate. However, these numbers are skewed by his strong start to the season and do not fully reflect his performance over the last two weeks.

The hope is for Volpe to regain his confidence and achieve more consistent results at the plate. As opposing pitchers increasingly challenge him early in counts, the pressure mounts on him and Judge to drive the team’s offense. If Volpe’s performance does not improve soon, a change from the leadoff spot may become inevitable.

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