Yankees’ rookie shortstop is making a strong case for the future

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees, anthony volpe
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

In a season riddled with difficulties for the New York Yankees, the promotion of rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe provided a ray of hope. Despite being just 22 years old, Volpe envisioned as a long-term solution, has demonstrated promising skills as a defender, exhibiting sporadic brilliance.

The Learning Curve of a Rookie

As the Yankees’ former top prospect and the projected future of their infield, Volpe has encountered his fair share of ups and downs during his rookie season.

In his 108 games so far, Volpe’s performance includes a batting average of .214, an OBP of .288, along with 14 home runs, 38 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases. Despite struggling to keep pace with MLB pitching, leading to bouts of frustration and dwindling confidence, Volpe is gaining essential lessons, such as forgetting previous at-bats and exploiting the weaknesses of pitchers.

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Volpe’s Performance: A Closer Look at his Season With the Yankees

Interestingly, Volpe has demonstrated more prowess against left-handed pitchers, recording a .241 batting average and a .330 OBP, inclusive of four home runs and 10 RBIs. On the contrary, his performance against right-handed pitchers has been less inspiring, with a .206 batting average and a .275 OBP, marked by 90 strikeouts across 277 at-bats.

Volpe’s performance has varied considerably month by month. Peculiarly, he has posted his best statistics when batting eighth in the order, achieving a .321 average and a .377 OBP over 56 at-bats. In terms of positions with runners in scoring position, Volpe has notably struggled, necessitating improvement as the Yankees grapple with being arguably the least successful team in the league under such circumstances.

The Struggle with Breaking Pitches

It’s not uncommon for young players to struggle with breaking pitches, and Volpe is no exception. Although his batting average against fastballs stands at .257, breaking balls have resulted in a .147 average, coupled with a 33.7% whiff rate. Mastering the recognition of sliders at a high level is a formidable task that Volpe continues to wrestle with.

Indicators of a Promising Future as the Yankees’ Shortstop

Despite certain off-putting statistics, Volpe displays several exciting metrics indicative of a promising future. For instance, his achievement of 14 home runs as a rookie, with the potential to exceed 20 this season, is commendable. Other positive metrics include a 45.6% hard-hit rate, 8.1% barrel rate, 89.5 average exit velocity, and 108.7 max exit velocity. These suggest that when Volpe makes contact, he hits the ball hard, pointing towards the need to refine his discipline in the batter’s box.

Volpe’s Defensive Prowess

In addition to his offensive skills, Volpe has saved 10 defensive runs at shortstop across 907.2 innings and added two outs above average. By these standards, he has arguably emerged as the best Yankee shortstop in a decade, offering fans a significant cause for excitement.

Summing Up Volpe’s Performance and Potential With the Yankees

In summary, Volpe brings two significant strengths to the table: his solid defensive skills and his ability to hit the ball hard when he makes contact. Although there’s room for improvement in understanding breaking balls and refining his swing decisions, these are areas that should evolve with time and experience. This talented rookie promises a brighter future for the struggling New York Yankees.