Yankees’ rookie shortstop may have found the answer to his struggles

MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Yankees, anthony volpe
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

To secure a playoff berth this year, the New York Yankees will require their everyday starters to be fit and in form. Currently, health is a significant concern, particularly with star player Aaron Judge expected to be sidelined for several more weeks, if not months, due to a torn right big toe ligament.

Reinforcement from Rodon

Fortunately, Carlos Rodon, the Yankees’ $162 million free-agent acquisition, is anticipated to return on July 7, after a final rehab assignment. Despite Rodon’s return significantly bolstering the rotation, the Yankees’ offensive problems persist, as evidenced by their 2-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.

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Rising Star: Anthony Volpe

Despite overall disappointing results, young shortstop Anthony Volpe has been delivering standout performances, particularly in the past week.

Volpe’s current stats, a .203 batting average, and a .282 OBP, don’t initially impress. However, he’s also recorded 10 home runs, 28 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases. His 30.6% strikeout rate might seem high, but his near 10% walk rate displays impressive patience. Volpe’s 81 wRC+ suggests he’s performing 19% worse than the average MLB player, but this figure has been improving consistently.

A Closer Look at Volpe’s Performance

In June, Volpe has been hitting .233 with a .313 OBP and .400 slugging percentage. Though not impressive at face value, these figures surpass his season averages, indicating growth. Notably, Volpe has achieved seven hits in his last seven games, getting on base 11 times during this period against tough competitors like the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.

Tuesday’s game against Oakland saw Volpe rack up three hits in four at-bats, including three singles. His performance over the past week is outstanding, with a slash line of .400/.526/.667 and a 1.193 OPS. Over the last 15 days, his numbers are .314/.415/.514.

Signs of Improvement

The 22-year-old infielder seems to be turning his performance around, showing good swing decisions coupled with power. His current stats include a 43.9% hard-hit rate, a 9.2% barrel rate, and an average exit velocity of 89.5. His 14.1° launch angle is helping him to get the ball in the air, increasing his home run numbers for the season despite other shortcomings.

Implications for the Yankees

If the Yankees can continue to support Volpe’s improvement, he could significantly contribute to their offense, especially given their current struggles. With most high-priced veterans underperforming, younger players have had to step up.

Defensive Capabilities

Volpe also impresses on defense, with a .973 fielding percentage and just seven errors across 658 innings at shortstop. He has earned six defensive runs saved with -2 outs above average, proving to be an asset in a position that has traditionally been a liability for the Yankees.

It’s a positive sign that Volpe has found his rhythm after rectifying an undiagnosed stance change. His recent form goes to show that a chicken parm dinner with Double-A catcher Austin Wells can prove more beneficial than imagined.