Anthony Volpe turning heads in second Yankees season: ‘Becoming a superstar’

Anthony Volpe’s offseason work has become an in-season problem for his opponents.

The Yankees shortstop spent the winter after his rookie season refining his swing and sharpening his approach, with a full year of experience of big league at-bats under his belt.

It is still in the early stages of the season, but Volpe has seen immediate dividends, hitting safely in eight of his 10 games and leading the majors entering Tuesday with a .417 batting average.

Anthony Volpe belts a three-run homer in the fourth inning of the Yankees' 7-0 win over the Marlins on Monday night.
Anthony Volpe belts a three-run homer in the fourth inning of the Yankees’ 7-0 win over the Marlins on Monday night. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

That, combined with more standout defense after winning the AL Gold Glove at shortstop, has Volpe making a strong impression and not just inside the Yankees.

“Volpe at shortstop is becoming a superstar in this league,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. “As much as I don’t like to watch it this series, it’s fun to watch just as a baseball fan the way he plays shortstop and the way he’s taking those at-bats.”

That was Schumaker after seeing Volpe live in just Monday’s series opener, when the soon-to-be 23-year-old hit a three-run home run and made two more terrific plays in the field.

Those who have seen him up close every day have taken note of more than just his hot start to the season.

Anthon Volpe hugs a teammate after hitting a three-run homer during the Yankees' win on Monday night.
Anthon Volpe hugs a teammate after hitting a three-run homer during the Yankees’ win on Monday night. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“The most impressive thing — we can talk about all the stuff he’s doing — but his demeanor and how he acted last year hitting .200, he’s the exact same as when he’s hitting .500,” Aaron Judge said. “He doesn’t change. The guy’s consistent every single day — hot start, bad start, it doesn’t matter. He’s been consistent through these first [11] games, and that’s what you look for [in] a guy that’s going to be your shortstop, one of the future leaders of your team. It’s been impressive just how consistent he is.”

After a rookie season in which he hit .209 with a .666 OPS — both among the worst marks among 134 qualified hitters in the majors — Volpe went to work in the offseason to flatten his bat path and keep his bat in the strike zone longer, giving himself better coverage of different pitches in the zone.

In particular, Volpe struggled against breaking pitches in his rookie year, batting just .148 with a .262 slugging percentage and 33.9 percent whiff rate against them.

In the early sample size of 10 games entering Tuesday, Volpe was batting .500 with a .857 slugging percentage and 15.4 percent whiff rate against breaking pitches.

“I think it’s just [being] comfortable with his approach,” hitting coach James Rowson said. “The adjustments he made in the offseason and things that he wanted to do, it’s nice that they’re working for him. But really, he’s been able to maintain it. A lot of times, people try to make adjustments, but it’s the ability to maintain those adjustments that makes you great. Right now, Volpe’s maintaining the things he worked on, and it’s showing every day.”

Volpe recently said he was getting to pitches more consistently than he did last season, when his swing got too big over the course of the long season.

Part of that has to do with how he is landing in swing mechanics.

“I feel like last year I was hanging back too much,” he said. “When I feel like I’m landing in a good position and my head’s over the center of my body, then I can adjust from there.”

Volpe’s early jump from last season goes beyond just pitches he swings at, though.

He has put together strong at-bats throughout by doing a better job of laying off difficult pitches.

“I think it all goes hand in hand,” manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s just more equipped to handle different pitches in the strike zone, so it leads to better decisions. You’re in better position to make quality decisions. He’s putting together great at-bats.”


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