Were you worried about the slow start at the plate by Yankees rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe? If so, you can stop worrying now. And who knows, maybe that can serve as the foundation for an American League Rookie of the Year performance once Game 162 is in the books.
Through the first handful of games this season, Volpe mostly found himself hitting ninth. But, he’s exclusively been the Yankees’ leadoff when in the lineup since April 16th. After a slow start to his MLB career, his offense has picked up considerably:
Volpe’s game splits:
First 12: Last 13:
AVG: .143 AVG: .295
RBI: 0 RBI: 7
SB: 3 SB: 5
Walks: 5 Walks: 11
wRC+: 40 wRC+: 160 pic.twitter.com/S6HgzCWh2Y
— YankeesMuse (@YankeesMuse) April 27, 2023
Volpe’s season-long stats still have some catching up to do (.228/.358/.354, 109 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR). However, it’s clear that he’s getting comfortable. Various New York veterans have made sure he feels that way, and it’s clearly paying dividends as he continues getting acclimated to life in the big leagues.
So, what does Seattle Mariners phenom Julio Rodriguez have to do with all this? Well, there are lots of similarities between these two young and exciting players.
J-Rod made his big-league last year, also at the age of 21. Volpe had just 22 Triple-A games under his belt before getting promoted in time for Opening Day. Rodriguez didn’t spend a single day in Triple-A, jumping right to the majors after 46 games in Double-A.
They both provide an interesting mix of power and speed on the bases. Last, but most certainly not least, Rodriguez’s 2022 campaign also got off to a very slow start before taking off. Let’s use the “first 12, last 13” sample that was used above for Volpe.
In Rodriguez’s first 12 big-league games, he hit .136/.208/.159 with no home runs, two RBI, four runs scored, four steals, and a 12 wRC+. Over his next 13 games that followed, those numbers improved to .298/.353/.426 with one homer, seven RBI, six runs scored, five steals, and a 125 wRC+.
It continued getting better from there for Rodriguez. He put on an incredible show at the Home Run Derby in Los Angeles that July. The outfielder also finished the year with a .853 OPS, a 146 wRC+, 28 homers, 75 RBI, 84 runs scored, 25 steals, and 5.4 fWAR. He placed seventh in AL MVP voting but ran away with Rookie of the Year honors, getting 29 of 30 first-place votes.
So, you see the symmetry going on here, yes? The similarities are even down to the same number of games that were subpar to start the year. We’ll see if Volpe’s comfort continues leading to results and eventually some end-of-season hardware. If it does, that will probably mean good things for the Yankees, both on the field and elsewhere.
You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.