Who else would have the game-winning hit for the Yankees on Tuesday night other than Anthony Volpe as he appeared in his 50th major league game? While the rookie shortstop has had his ups and downs this season, the 22-year-old has come as advertised to the Yanks this season after plenty of hype over the Bronx Bomers’ prospect.
Volpe drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Baltimore Orioles with a sacrifice fly to center deep enough that Baltimore never made a play at the plate. Manager Aaron Boone credited Volpe with his smart strategy in that moment and Yankees slugger Aaron Judge complimented the way Volpe has been swinging the bat.
“He’s hitting it hard right at guys and really hasn’t been getting rewarded,” Judge said. “So to see him come up there in a big situation to win us the game everyone was pretty excited. We couldn’t let him get off (the field) without a little bit of water.”
Volpe has checked off a number of milestones over his 50 games in the big leagues, including his first hit, home run, grand slam and now his first game-winning hit. He is the only member of the roster to play in all of the Yanks’ first 50 games of the year and his baserunning skills have been some of the best that Boone has ever seen.
What’s been lacking has been his ability to get hits. Volpe went 0-for-4 in Tuesday night, even with the game-winning sac fly, and has gone 16-for-82 with a .196 batting average during the month of May. He also has 12 RBIs and five home runs this month.
In all, he’s been hitting .207/.291/.379 through 50 games and his OPS is .670. He’s also shown some good plate discipline walking 20 times this year.
“I think he’s a really good-looking player and I think he’s confirmed a lot of things that I think we expected when we made the decision at the end of camp to bring him with us and make them our shortstop. I think he’s overall played really well defensively,” Boone said before the win on Tuesday. “I think he’s handled all that comes with playing here and being shortstop for the Yankees.
“He’s had his ups and downs at the plate. With that said he’s gotten a lot of big hits for us and said some balls out of the ballpark. He’s given you a glimpse that I think a guy that’s going to be really good at controlling the strike zone and being a guy that in the future you envision hitting at the top or in the middle of the lineup.”
Volpe has shown his defensive prowess while with the Yankees and that had been on display on Tuesday when he made a leaping catch in the top of the 10th inning. He does have six errors to his name, but that is something that comes with the growing pains.
“He’s not been overwhelmed by anything,” Boone said. “He’s handled his successes, when he stubbed his toe he’s handled all that as we expected like a pro. And he’s a big part of that room now, so I think the biggest thing is through it all he’s kind of confirmed what we hoped.”