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Anthony Volpe a short stop from being the next Jeter?

Is it premature to suggest Anthony Volpe is a guarantee to be the next New York Yankees shortstop for the next 15 years?

 

Absolutely but Volpe can claim this as his job for the next decade plus if he continues to show the improvements and more importantly the adjustments needed to be a made man in the show for years to come.

 

Having just started his sophomore season in the big leagues Anthony Michael Volpe is currently living the dream he is a starter everyday for a team he grew up supporting and watching from the stands as a kid. He still is a kid in MLB terms. Volpe has just turned 23 a month into the 2024 season and he has made the mental and physical adjustments needed to make me think now more than ever he is here to stay and is quickly establishing himself as a Yankee fan favourite.

Video taken from MLB's YouTube channel

His big league dream started at the 2023 spring training the Yankees without directly saying implied the job for starting shortstop was basically a one on one shootout with Oswald Peraza, the Yankees did not even deal in talks with the free agent big name shortstops they could have gone for in the likes of Carlos Correa or Trea Turner but they were confident internally they did not need to spend money on a free agent at this position, especially after giving Aaron Judge the monster $360 million ($40 million AAV) contract at the winter meetings of 2022.

 

Volpe and Peraza were deemed the two untouchables when it came to trade talks at the start of 2023 and Volpe being the no1 prospect in the Yankees system it is thought that this was the opportunity he needed to grab by the neck and take. He was only 21 in spring training 2023 and although this is very young in terms of being an everyday player, the Yankees thought he was ready.

 

I went on to MLB.com to look at spring 2023 to get the specific stats and he had a great spring in 19 games and 55 at bats with 17 hits including 3 home runs batting to a .309avg. Peraza on the other hand failed to take his chance playing 15 games with 42 at bats he had only 8 hits and one home run batting to a .190avg. It was set and Volpe would start opening day against the San Francisco Giants as the New York Yankees shortstop. It was now his job to lose.

 

In 2023 Volpe ended up playing 159 games for the New York Yankees a team high and had 113 hits including 48 extra base hits, which included 21 home runs to a batting average of .209. It wasn’t the worst rookie season ever but his offense was maybe a little lower than expected from an everyday shortstop. Stats do not tell you everything however Volpe’s defence was exceptional, he ended up being a golden glove in his rookie year. What I like about Volpe however is in a year which was disastrous for the Yankees they found someone who could stand up and be counted. In a year where a lot of established stars did not play up to the back of their baseball card Volpe was a bright light. It could be argued that the only Yankees that could hold their heads up high in 2023 were Volpe, Torres, Judge and Cole.

 

There were games where a 21 year old in his first season should not be looking to carry the team with the second highest payroll in baseball (after the Mets) exceeding $300 million. During the season Volpe became the first Yankees shortstop in history to record a grand slam against the Oakland Athletics. He also became the first Yankee in history with 20 home runs and 20 stole bases in his rookie season.

 

The biggest issue with Volpe in his debut season was the number of swings and misses. Was this down to a 21-year-old playing for his favourite team in his debut season however? At times it looked like every at bat was just Volpe trying to get his next home run. Something however seemed to have clicked towards the end of the season. Stories suggest that it was not something picked up by Yankees staff but by minor league (at the time) friend and teammate Austin Wells who picked up where Volpe was going wrong. There was a change in Volpe’s approach in the last few months. Suddenly the contact looked better the ball was in play more and it didn’t look like every attempt at the swing was to hit it out the park.

 

Volpe does not need to be a player that hits 40 homeruns a season he needs to be a player that gets on base, just by his baserunning style he causes pitchers to think and panic he stole his first ten attempted steals. He has been flirting up and down the lineup but ultimately he seems like a leadoff hitter. The 2024 Yankees should be a 1 2 3 of Volpe, Soto and Judge. These three in this order is a frightening prospect. Juan Soto is also a player Volpe is clearly learning from in 2024 he is making contact more and his on base percentage (OBP) has already gone up 100 points from 2023 early into this season.

 

Volpe chose to go straight into the Yankees organisation as soon as he got drafted where the original plan was for him to go to college. He is clearly living the dream and is committed. He shows heart and you can see the effort in every single game he plays. Some Yankee fans have called for the team to extend him early and where I think these sentiments may be a little premature I can see Volpe being a Yankee for life. Going back to the title of the article is he the next Derek Jeter? No, he’s played less than a season and a half of baseball and Jeter was a first ballet hall of famer and one of the all-time Yankees whose number 2 is retired. However, could Volpe be the next long term shortstop the Yankees have been looking for since Jeter? I believe so he looks like a completely transformed player in 2024 so far after coming off a great rookie year. The future is very bright for both the Yankees and especially Anthony Volpe.

 

Spring training stats from MLB.com

2023 stats from baseball-reference.com

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