Yankees’ star infielder is cementing himself as the long-term lead-off man

MLB: Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees
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If the Yankees were in search of a long-term leadoff man, they have no reason to continue their search. In only his second season, 23-year-old shortstop Anthony Volpe has cemented himself as a long-term option at leadoff, seemingly hitting a triple every other day. On Wednesday, he smacked another triple down the right field line, bouncing the ball off the wall and hustling into third base with time to spare.

Anthony Volpe: A Rising Star as the Yankees’ Leadoff Man

Volpe’s speed and bat-to-ball skills have become essential staples in his game, not to mention his excellent defense at shortstop. This season, he is hitting .290/.355/.448, including six homers, 25 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, a 20.6% strikeout rate, an 8.2% walk rate, and 132 wRC+. His strikeout rate has reduced by 7% compared to his rookie season, showing improvements across the board.

If this trend continues, he will go down as one of the best players to ever don the pinstripes long-term, and the front office is expected to extend Juan Soto in the near future, solidifying an elite trio at the top of the Yankees’ batting order.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays, anthony volpe
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Mastering the Art of Defense and Speed

Despite the fact that Volpe’s slugging metrics rank among some of the worst in baseball, he is making up for it with his speed and contact abilities. He is able to hustle out ground balls on occasion and has done an excellent job spraying the ball around the field, producing most of his hits to right field, which is interesting considering he is a righty. The Yankees have clearly focused on having him slap the ball the other way, taking advantage of open gaps and opposing defenses.

As for his defense, Volpe has a .971 fielding percentage over 552 innings, including three defensive runs saved and five outs above average. He might not reach his DRS franchise record from last season (15), but he is blowing away his outs above average numbers.

Some believed Volpe would be a long-term second baseman, but he is not only showing off his arm strength but incredible reaction timing at shortstop, holding down the fort at one of the most difficult defensive positions.

May 1, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe (11) fields a ground ball during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles  at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
May 1, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe (11) fields a ground ball during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Fortunately, the top half of the Yankees’ batting order is doing the majority of the damage lately, which is always expected based on how a lineup is structured. However, the trio of Volpe, Soto, and Aaron Judge is exceptional, and the Bombers simply can’t stop winning because of it.

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