We are approaching 2 months of Anthony Volpe in the big leagues, and the highly touted prospect has caught the eye of many baseball fans. As he continues establishing himself as the Yankees’ starting shortstop, it is imperative to assess what we are seeing from the 22-year-old as he acclimates to the MLB caliber of play.
Volpe is currently slashing .207/.291/.318 in 196 trips to the plate. Although these stats are below average and may cause alarm in some, it’s important to keep in mind, however, that Anthony Volpe is still a 22 year old with less than 200 major league plate appearances. It is unrealistic to expect Volpe to hit like an All-Star. Instead, our focus should be on identifying strong peripheral stats that indicate a healthy adjustment to the demands of the big league level.
When analyzing Volpe’s hitting, we see a number of indicators of strong adjustments. Volpe chases pitches out of the zone roughly 25% of the time compared to the league average 28.4%. This places him in the 62nd percentile of the league and aligns with Anthony Volpe’s minor league scouting reports which highlight his command of the zone. This seems to have translated well to the big leagues, and is further reflected in his above-average 10.5% walk rate. Volpe does not seem to be overpowered by the jump in velocity and movement in MLB pitching.
Moreover, Volpe’s power has already become evident, with 7 homers to his name this season. Despite his relatively small stature, Volpe’s 65th percentile average exit velocity and 69th percentile Barrel % are strong indicators of future success. Volpe hits the ball hard and we can expect him to continue doing so. A strong batted ball profile is one of the best indicators of success in a hitter, and it seems that Volpe has adjusted well to major league pitching in this regard.
One point of concern with Volpe remains in his high 30% strikeout rate. Although strikeout rate does not have the strongest correlation with hitting success (Aaron Judge’s 30% K rate is illustrative of this), it is an area in which Volpe can look to improve. By putting the ball in play more often and relying on his speed on the basepaths, Volpe can challenge defenses and increase his on-base percentage.
Speaking of speed, Volpe’s baserunning prowess has been as advertised. His 83rd percentile sprint speed is what we expected from him. His 4.3 BsR (Base Running) is second in the league to Esteury Ruiz. With 13 bags stolen already, Volpe is on pace to be one of the best Yankee base stealers in recent memory. On multiple occasions already this season, Volpe has single-handedly created runs for the Yankees. His speed on the bases has brought a new dimension to a homer-heavy Yankee lineup.
Another point of concern is Volpe’s defense, where he currently ranks in the 15th percentile according to Outs Above Average. We’ve seen some shaky mistakes from Volpe that have called into question his long-term viability at shortstop. It has been suggested that Volpe may project long-term at 2B due to below average arm strength. While it is true that the Yankees have Oswald Peraza as a sure handed defensive option at shortstop, don’t discount the potential for Anthony Volpe to learn and improve. We’ve already seen Anthony Volpe gradually adjust to MLB pitching, and there is reason to believe that he can similarly enhance his defensive skills over time.
We are still in the early stages of Anthony Volpe’s development in the big leagues. Already we’ve seen promising aspects of a player who may be a critical part of the New York Yankees long-term plans. It’s okay to have high hopes for Volpe, but it’s also important to understand that he is still adjusting and learning at the big-league level. As fans, we should take advantage of this opportunity to watch him adjust and learn, and appreciate the talent exhibited by a young player living out his dream.