What happens if the Yankees have Anthony Volpe playing Gold Glove defense at short AND a superior option beside him? Is that a good problem, or an uncomfortable one?
It remains unclear where Oswald Peraza's future lies with the Yankees -- or whether he has one -- but it's become abundantly clear in recent weeks that, if he hits enough, he'll have a big-league future at shortstop somewhere.
Peraza has reintroduced a toe tap and begun swinging for the fences in September, tattooing a 440-foot blast to tie up Monday's rain game with the Diamondbacks. His excellent swing decisions have resulted in a .263 mark with a .712 OPS in the month, portending that good things could be on the horizon offensively with more regular playing time (and maybe a happy medium between gripping it/ripping it and being more walk-conscious).
Of course, even in a solid offensive month, he's shined far more with the glove. And while one play should never be emblematic of a nuanced discussion, it was hard to watch Peraza glide into the hole and hose Alejandro Kirk with an effortless laser to first on Tuesday and not think, "This is the Yankees' best option at shortstop moving forward."
Yankees shortstop Oswald Peraza has special glove, arm. Anthony Volpe has a special glove.
Don't get any of this twisted. Anthony Volpe has, in many ways, surpassed expectations at shortstop already. Aaron Boone recently praised his defense as worthy of the "Gold Glove conversation," and he's not incorrect. Volpe has racked up 14 DRS and ranks in the 65th percentile in OAA despite his 17 errors. His impressive range has done a lot to help him overcome his arm, which has been as weak as expected (28th percentile); he's done a lot of great work maximizing the defensive talents he does have by doing the little things well.
Peraza, though, naturally has the arm that Volpe lacks. He doesn't need to rely on his baseball instincts to get him out of the jams his physical limitations create. He simply has every tool. In an idealized world on a level plane, Volpe would likely play second base to Peraza's shortstop, assuming both prospects hit enough to justify regular playing time. But this isn't a level plane. Volpe has already been anointed Shortstop for the New York Yankees (capitalized like a proper honors) in the tradition of Derek Jeter. Gleyber Torres was once given the mantle and failed to uphold it. Volpe has done just fine, even very well, in his attempts to hold onto the role. The organization backtracking after a solid season would be surprising. It would also (ducks) probably be correct, which could ultimately lead to Peraza being dealt (or moved to third?) to avoid the uncomfortable reality.
After Tuesday's game, Boone spoke on the obvious, reveling in just how effortless Peraza made his spectacular play look:
"He made that play like he was bored. That is a special play. That is what he is defensively. We have seen it at third and second and we have seen it all over now. He has not played a lot up here this year in short, but he has a special skill set defensively."- Aaron Boone
Fitting that even the Kids' brightest moments have served to create more conundrums for a Yankees team stuck in flux. When in doubt, the more "effortless-seeming" option is typically the better one, though heavy lies the crown of whoever carries the Yankees' shortstop torch moving forward.