Yankees SS Anthony Volpe maturing at the plate in second season

yankees ss anthony volpe maturing at the plate in second season

New York Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe.

Things are going well for the New York Yankees early in 2024. The team is off to a 5-0 start, including a four-game sweep of the Astros in Houston before taking the series opener against the defending National League champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

Particularly encouraging has been the hitting of shortstop Anthony Volpe, who won a gold glove in his 2023 rookie season but hit just .209 with 167 strikeouts in 159 games.

In four games this year he’s 8-for-14 with four extra base hits (one home run) and four walks, notching his first career four-hit game on Monday night in Arizona.

“It’s big [to go 4-for-4] but it was a great team win. The bullpen was incredible and there we’re a lot of incredible at-bats,” Volpe told YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits after Monday’s win.

“When you got a team that’s passing it on like that, it’s easy to get up there and try to do your job.”

The most notable difference for Volpe at the plate so far this year is his plate discipline, something the entire team struggled with in 2023.

According to Baseball Savant, Volpe swung at 28.7 percent of pitches outside the strike zone in 2023 compared to just 13 percent so far this year. He’s also forcing pitchers to work harder, seeing 5.43 pitches per plate appearance compared to 3.88 last season.

The improved at-bats have helped raise his on-base percentage to .667 (from .283 in 2023). With a sprint speed in the 90th percentile per Baseball Savant, Volpe reaching base can dramatically alter an inning. Not only is he capable of stealing bases, the threat of him doing so can force pitchers into making a mistake to another hitter as they worry about holding Volpe close.

With DJ LeMahieu out for an unspecified amount of time due to a foot fracture, Volpe will likely get some chances to hit leadoff.

If he’s able to continue getting on base at a high rate and forcing pitchers to face sluggers Juan Soto and Aaron Judge with traffic on the base paths, it is going to be a very long season for pitchers facing the Yankees lineup.

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