Anthony Volpe Yankees
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

The headline is admittedly misleading because, in all honesty, Anthony Volpe had a pretty okay rookie season in 2023.

He took home a Gold Glove at shortstop, an incredibly hard task, and finished eight in AL Rookie of the Year voting. He even had a 20-20 season, finishing with 21 and 24, respectively. The only downside to Volpe’s first pro season was he posted a meager line of .209/.283/.383 with a .666 OPS. Now add 167 ugly strikeouts and his strikeout rate (K%) finishing in the 19th percentile.

Not exactly inspiring numbers from the future franchise shortstop, are they?

Well, the critics now have to eat their words because Anthony Volpe is back in expected form, and he brought a new swing with him. The results speak for themselves. He hit .314 in spring training and has floored it even more in the young regular season.

As things currently stand, Anthony Volpe leads MLB with a .571 batting average. His whopping 0.7 WAR leads the American League. And if you ask scouts, it’s all thanks to one simple change.

“This is the guy I saw (in the minors). I didn’t recognize the guy at the plate last year, trying to pull the ball 450 feet,” a scout told Newsday‘s Erik Boland. “Seems like he’s getting back to who he is.”

We all saw the issue with our own eyes last season. Even after an early adjustment, Volpe was overcompensating at the plate. He let his hip fly open as he swung too hard, clearly thinking moonshot or bust. Observe:

Results aside, it’s easy to find the flaws in Volpe’s mechanics. He’s already smaller at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds. Holes in his swing aside, 48 of his 50 minor league home runs can almost certainly be attributed to juiced baseballs. Sure, he was probably the best player on the field much of the time, but minor league ballparks are generally bigger. A perfect storm of Volpe’s old swing and the juiced balls could easily amplify his results, two things can be true.

But for comparison, take a look at Volpe’s swing early in 2024. It’s cleaner, leveler, more trusting in itself:

The old Anthony Volpe swung with all his might, so often that it sometimes looked like he was swinging out of his shoes. The new Volpe stays relaxed and looks more confident swinging through the lower and middle thirds of the strike zone. Imagine what could have been last season had Volpe used this approach instead of living and dying by the three true outcomes.

But for now, it looks like we can finally put a pin in the long-held Yankees shortstop conversation. Oswaldo Cabrera is thriving at third base and also in a super utility role. Oswald Peraza is still rehabbing his injured shoulder. That only leaves one man.

Anthony Volpe. New Jersey native. Star shortstop on the rise.

Born to be a New York Yankee.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.