Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Volpe has all the makings of a New York Yankees leadoff man.

Small. Scrappy. Speedy. An incredible Gold Glove at shortstop. And, unlike one of his Hall of Fame predecessors Derek Jeter, the numbers actually support him in the field.

Sure enough, such has been the mold for most traditional Yankee leadoff men. They have largely been smaller contact hitters with excellent speed and range at their respective positions. Second basemen Chuck Knoblauch and Bobby Richardson come to mind, as does former center fielder Mickey Rivers.

Granted, there are some differences. Rivers and Richardson did not have particularly strong on-base percentages (OBP) for their careers, something which would never fly today. Rivers’ career OBP was only .327 compared to a .295 lifetime batting average, and Richardson’s was a mere .299 compared to batting .266.

Knoblauch, on the other hand, posted a .378 OBP while batting .289 and notching double-digit stolen bases in each of his 12 seasons.

Regardless, there is one universal truth in baseball aside from consistently hitting home runs being what really wins games: You can’t win without consistently getting men on base as well.

It is here that Anthony Volpe actively hurts the Yankees as the leadoff man. So much that he needs to be dropped in the lineup until his at-bats improve.

In fairness to Volpe, his hitting has very much improved compared to his rookie year. He’s batting .257 with six homers and 28 RBI. His wRC+ is a clean 100, putting him right at the league average. Most importantly, his strikeout rate (K%) dropped nearly six points to 22%.

The problem is that Volpe started the year much stronger before hitting an ineffectiveness wall in June. Through May 31, he was batting .282 with a .353 OBP, with 24 walks in 264 plate appearances. He’s no Juan Soto, but that’s still not bad for a 23-year-old leadoff man.

But be it the early midseason reports or jsut an awful, awful month, Anthony Volpe had a June to forget. He hit just .220 with an abysmal .238 OBP, no home runs, and for one reason.

Volpe drew just three walks for the month.

A lot of this is simply because Volpe is missing good pitches. Striking out 34 times compared to 54 combined beforehand likely has something to do with that. And this is no fault of Volpe’s either. He’s the leadoff man and paid to get on base, so why not swing early at pitches in the zone? See a good pitch to hit, swing the bat, baseball 101, right?

Except this is now more than just a slump for Anthony Volpe. The Yankees’ current slump is more due to poor pitching, but the offense hasn’t been great either. Lots of scoring happens either playing catch-up or in garbage time. New York simply can’t get by waiting for Volpe to right himself ahead of Juan Soto.

Rather, manager Aaron Boone needs to give Volpe something of a light Gleyber Torres treatment. His elite glove means that won’t be a benching, but a simple lineup adjustment. Rather than leading off the game, what if Volpe hit something like fifth or sixth?

Think about it. What do the Yankees have to lose? Maybe batting in front of Juan Soto is what gets DJ LeMahieu going again while Volpe finds himself batting lower in the order. Alex Verdugo is also an option, being a .282 career leadoff hitter compared to .244 in his usual New York cleanup spot.

This isn’t to say Verdugo will be an immediate on-base machine who steals bases at the same clip. That’s not his game and his OBP in the leadoff spot is only .334. The tradeoff is that Verdugo has an overall good eye for the strike zone and can effectively put the ball in play without racking up strikeouts.

It helps that Verdugo also had a rough June, batting just .219. He’ll immediately get better pitches to hit leading off, especially batting in front of Soto. It’s well worth having two lefties bat back-to-back.

Contrastingly, Volpe has hit best when batting…seventh. The sample size is small, but he’s batted .286 with a .857 OPS in 26 games there.

The pitching will have to right itself eventually but until then, the Yankees need to get creative with the lineup. Boone can’t get complacent and hope for a turnaround game after game after game after game. That didn’t work in 2022 or ’23, and it won’t work now.

Simply put, Anthony Volpe needs to be put in a position where he can work quality at-bats and not feel like he has to rush to reach base. Continuing to bat him leadoff serves only to keep a hole at the top of the lineup.

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.