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The Tuesday Discussion: Shortstop 2024

September 19, 2023


This week we asked our writers:

Did Anthony Volpe prove that he should be the shortstop for 2024, or is the jury still out on him?

Here are their responses:


Lincoln Mitchell - I am planning to write something longer about Volpe after the season, but the short answer to that question is yes. Volpe has demonstrated that he is good enough to be a big league shortstop. If the Yankees were good this year, the Volpe story would have been that he solidified the position for the Yankees. However, Volpe has not proven he can be an impact hitter in the big leagues. His .211/.288/.388 slash line makes that evident. He has struck out in fully 27% of his plate appearances, and has not offset that by walking a lot. What makes Volpe a puzzle is that he has some impressive tools. His defense and baserunning are clearly very strong and he has shown that he can hit for power. If Volpe can improve his batting average and OBP by fifty points, he will be a very valuable player. If not, he will be a glove first shortstop with some fun bursts of power, but going into 2024 I am less worried about shortstop than catcher, first base, third base, DH, centerfield and leftfield.


Derek McAdam - I think Anthony Volpe deserves to be the Yankees’ Opening Day shortstop next season for a couple reasons.

First, Volpe made this season’s Opening Day roster because he had a great Spring Training. He got off to a slow start, but was able to improve his hitting around June. Since that time, he has statistically been a much better hitter, even though he does need to cut down on his swing. Second, Volpe has shown that he can be a good shortstop. He doesn’t have a great arm, but he has a flashy glove and covers a lot of ground. Hopefully, he can only continue to improve at this position, especially if the Yankees want Oswald Peraza to start at third base.


Paul Semendinger - I think Anthony Volpe earned a second chance. He had an interesting year - demonstrated good power and good speed. He was surprisingly better on defense than I thought. But... while the talking point with Volpe is that he hit better as the year went on, he, actually didn't. (I wrote this on Sunday, but the bigger point remains...) In the first half, Volpe's batting average was .216. He's batting only .203 in the second half. Hos slugging percentage is also down in the second half, as is his OPS. This concerns me. One would have thought that he would show improvement as the year went on, but, really he didn't. Many experts state that Oswald Peraza is the better of the two defensively. He also might be better with the bat. If I were the Yankees, they'd both be on the team in 2024, in whatever positions (based on off-season moves) but if, by June Peraza is showing that he is an adequate batter, and Volpe isn't, I would move Volpe to allow Peraza to show his skills at shortstop. This is a decision that could have ramifications on the team for the next decade or more. The Yankees have to get it right. Volpe showed promise, but he didn't end the discussion. He had the chance to capture the job and claim it as his, and, simply put, he didn't. In many ways, the Yankees are right where they were a year ago.


Tamar Chalker - I think Volpe will benefit most from continuing to play in the Majors and by extension, so will the Yankees. I think he has a lot of potential and while he still needs to continue to work on things, let’s see if he can make those adjustments in the Big Leagues.


Ed Botti - Anthony Volpe has shown enough in 2023 to go to spring training 2024 as the starting shortstop, notwithstanding his low batting average.

I believe his batting average can be be better in 2024 if decides to stop trying lift the ball and instead hits through the ball. I think Sean Casey will work that out with him, if in fact Casey returns.


Patrick Gunn - Ultimately, I'd say that Volpe has done enough to get another shot at shortstop next season. He is fantastic at two important parts of the game - defense and baserunning. His steady ability to make routine plays and some less-than-routine plays at short has elevated the team. And, while he hasn't kept up with the steals, he is still able to make pitchers flinch on the bases and take extra bases when needed. The question is the bat, which he's shown in stretches that he can hit for power and work at-bats when he doesn't strike out so much. Volpe needs to cut his 27.5% K-rate and put the ball in play more often; identifying and hitting soft stuff (per Savant, .197 xBA on both breaking and offspeed pitches, whiff% above 34% on both) will help. Still, his flashes of solid play and still hitting more than 20 home runs at the plate at age 22 with barely any Triple-A experience give me hope that Volpe will make strides in year two.


Andy Singer - Without knowing anything else, and assuming that defense is roughly equal, which shortstop would you rather have?

Player A: .249/.329/.421, .750 OPS, .172 ISO, 7 SB

Player B: .232/.311/.431, .742 OPS, .209 ISO, 10 SB

The two players have roughly similar contact profiles on the surface; both draw walks; but Player B seems to have a bit more speed and power to his game. It's really close! I'd probably take Player B, but we're splitting hairs, right?

Player A is Dansby Swanson, one of the consensus 5-best shortstops in baseball this season, and he is 4th in Fangraphs WAR with 4.7 fWAR. That's a good guy to have around, and so is Player B!

...Player B is Anthony Volpe since the infamous "Chicken Parm Game." Did Volpe suddenly transform into a middle-of-the-order hitter overnight? No. Has be been uneven? Yes. Should we expect unevenness from a 22 year old rookie? Of course.

Volpe's struggles have been greatly overblown by Yankee fans (rightly!) frustrated by the team's struggles this season. Anyone who expected Derek Jeter's rookie season from Anthony Volpe was not being realistic. I think the best comparison for Anthony Volpe's rookie year is Jeremy Pena over in Houston. Houston lived with Pena's growing pains (which included numerous highs and lows) en-route to a World Series title. Anthony Volpe did not keep the Yankees from the playoffs this year, and at his best, was clearly part of the solution.

Back to the Dansby Swanson comparison. If Volpe merely reproduces his post-June 13th stats for an entire season with good defense (as he's proven capable of doing), he's in the conversation for being one of the 5 best shortstops in baseball as a 23 year old.

I see a lot of comments that Volpe should be given a second chance...and I don't agree with the notion that he squandered the first. Volpe has been uneven, which is to be expected and he got almost no help around him. I think Volpe knows what he needs to work on, and I have seen signs that he's already working on those aspects of his only needs to look at his batted ball profile on outside breaking balls for proof (hint: he's very rarely pulling that pitch now). As long as he maintains plus range such that he makes up for a light arm, I think Volpe has done enough to prove that he's the right guy to man shortstop for the Yankees in the future.

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