How you should measure Anthony Volpe's growth with Yankees

Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees
Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

New York Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe has started to find his stride at the plate. He's slashed .318/.400/.773 while recording three home runs and five RBI over his last seven games before entering play on Friday night.

Regardless of what will appear on the traditional stat sheet by the end of the year, Volpe’s offensive growth should be measured by his ability to exercise discipline in the batter’s box.

Volpe’s first career grand slam came last Wednesday in an 11-2 beatdown win over the Oakland Athletics, and gave fans reason to believe that he can be a major cog in a struggling and injured Bomber lineup.

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“I think the average you see up there isn’t right,” Aaron Judge told the New York Post after the game. “He swings the bat well, he has a great approach. Just been a little unlucky. So I was pretty happy he got rewarded for that little granny right there.”

To the Captain’s point, while it’s encouraging to see the 22-year-old find power, there are other attributes of his approach that should be examined further, and, in some cases, lauded.

Entering play on Friday, Volpe ranked in the 67th percentile in terms of BB %, the 68th percentile in terms of Barrel %, and the 63rd percentile in terms of chase rate. It seems as though the New Jersey native is attempting to be a holistically good hitter that does not embrace a “boom or bust” mentality. His walk percentage has decreased a bit in recent weeks, but a corresponding jump in hard-hit rate has more than made up for the dip.

It is not as if fans or analysts are expecting Volpe to develop into a pure power hitter, but it is tempting to place greater expectations on the young shortstop when he shows flashes of power like he did last Wednesday (and over the weekend against better pitching on the Rays).

The reality is that traditional metrics are deceiving when assessing young talent. Statistics like slugging percentage, batting average, home runs, and RBI rarely look pretty early in a young player’s career.

Advanced metrics show that Volpe has been smart at the dish. While he does rank in the 13th percentile in terms of K%, this number can be deceiving in that it may not accurately represent a rookie’s ability to work deep into counts and have consistently competitive at-bats. Sometimes, those strong at-bats end in a strikeout. These days, that is viewed as no more of a failing than a well-struck fly ball, in some cases.

Volpe’s growth will be paramount to the Yanks’ future, and his development will seemingly stem from a willingness to show discipline at the plate, regardless of initially inconsistent results on the stat-line.