Yankees’ rising infielder could hit star status in 2024

mlb: new york yankees at tampa bay rays, anthony volpe
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

While many will take a glance at Yankees young shortstop Anthony Volpe’s stats and walk away disappointed, he put together a polarizing 2023 season that certainly warrants optimism. While he definitely struggled in some categories, Volpe is leading the race for the AL Gold Glove award at shortstop, recording 15 defensive runs saved.

While some still argue that he should move to second base, where his arm strength concerns won’t be much of a problem, he looks solid at the position this past season and should only get better over time since it was his first full year adjusting to the MLB.

It is important to note that Volpe is only 22 years old and only played 22 games at the Triple-A level before making the transition to the majors. He played 159 games during his rookie season, showcasing durability.

Across 601 plate appearances, Volpe hit .209 with a .283 OBP and .383 slugging rate, including 21 homers, 60 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases. He also recorded a 27.8% strikeout rate, 8.7% walk rate, and 84 wRC+. While it certainly wasn’t the season Volpe likely imagined in his dreams, it is a decent benchmark to work off of, hoping to improve his plate discipline and boost his on-base percentage.

Hitting 20+ homers per season from the shortstop position would be a godsend for the Yankees, especially since Volpe is a right-handed batter and doesn’t leverage the short right porch in Yankee Stadium as well as others might.

Naturally, more at-bats and experience should help his averages increase over time, but his slugging prowess was certainly on display. He enjoyed a 42.7% hard-hit rate and 9% barrel rate with a 108.7 max exit velocity. His metrics show great upside, and the Yankees should be excited about his potential.

After all, manager Aaron Boone fought tooth and nail to get Volpe promoted instead of committing Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the position for another season, who ended up playing more in the outfield.

The Yankees Have a Fine Defender in Anthony Volpe

Defensively, the young infielder posted a .970 fielding percentage across 1,246.2 innings. His 17 errors certainly stand out as a negative, but the 15 defensive runs saved make up for it and showcase his athletic style and ability to make difficult plays.

While Oswald Peraza may be the better defender, the Yankees are still unsure of his offensive identity and if he will play a long-term role as a starter. The team currently has an opening at third base, and Peraza should be given every opportunity to win the job, even if they go out inside a free agent to compete.

Star slugger Aaron Judge even believes that Volpe will enter the 2024 season with a chip on his shoulder. If there’s one thing we can guarantee, he will be working on every little detail this off-season to continue refining his swing and preparing himself for the future. If you are one of the many people who are concerned about his rookie season metrics, you better believe that Volpe is far more bothered and will be doing everything in his power to make adjustments.

Even though he was a bit inconsistent, Volpe did have a few good months, specifically June and August. In August, Volpe hit .256 with a .333 OBP, .556 slugging rate, and .889 OPS. He hit seven homers with 21 RBIs and collected 23 hits across 90 at-bats.

Of course, he would like to produce a season full of months like that, if not far better, but at such a young age, the Yankees weren’t expecting him to light up the MLB immediately. In fact, the struggles of the team and reliance on him to step up was a difficult challenge, so if the Yankees can reinforce their batting order and take a bit of pressure off Volpe, it may help generate far better results and certainly more comfort in the batter’s box.

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