Yankees get first look at Anthony Volpe’s flatter swing in game action

LAKELAND, Fla. — Anthony Volpe wouldn’t want to be described as flat, but he’s hoping for his bat path to take on that characteristic.

Coming off an uneven rookie season offensively, the Yankees shortstop spent the offseason focusing on flattening out his swing.

It had gotten too uphill by the end of last year, playing a part in some of his struggles, but mechanical tweaks have been noticeable to the Yankees early this spring.

Anthony Volpe smacks a single in the first inning of the Yankees’ 22-10 win over the Tigers in their spring training opener.Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“I think it’s just continuing to make adjustments that are gonna allow him to be a more consistent offensive player,” manager Aaron Boone said Saturday. “I do feel like he’s had a really strong winter in that regard. He’s worked a lot on his swing and becoming more flat in the strike zone, which hopefully makes him a little more versatile in the strike zone, too.”

Though Volpe’s swing allowed him to hit 21 home runs in his freshman campaign, he also batted just .209 with a .666 OPS and 167 strikeouts in 601 plate appearances.

It’s possible that a flatter bat path through the zone could allow Volpe to cut down on the strikeouts and raise his average with more contact.

“Those two things would definitely be nice,” Volpe said after the Yankees’ 22-10 win over the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. “The goal is just making me the hitter I know I can be and I know I should be. I think the best hitters have high average and don’t strike out, so that’s the goal.”

Volpe got some early results with the tweaked swing Saturday, going 1-for-3 with a single up the middle in the Yankees’ Grapefruit League opener.

Anthony Volpe steals second during the first inning of the Yankees’ spring training win.Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

“I feel comfortable with it,” Volpe said. “I’m not thinking about anything, just going out there and playing. That’s always a nice feeling.”

Boone said Volpe’s flatter swing was “evident” to him the first time he saw him hitting at the club’s player development complex over the winter.

He had more posture and wasn’t sinking down as much in his batting stance, which had led to his bat coming up through the zone last year.

Volpe had stretches where he looked like he was settling in at the plate, only for the league to adjust back to him and sink him back into another rough patch.

“Look, when you’re in the grind of it every day [and] you’re a [22]-year-old shortstop, this league’s great at finding and exploiting holes and weaknesses,” Boone said. “Part of becoming and really establishing yourself as a good player is to be able to make adjustments and plug some of those holes that guys are so good at exploiting.”

The same thing may have happened with regards to Volpe being a threat on the bases. He stole 24 bases (and was caught only five times), becoming the first Yankees rookie to accrue a 20-20 season. But 13 of those steals came in his first 41 games before he cooled off as a threat.

“I think the league really clamped down on him from game planning and quickening up and being very aware of him,” Boone said before Volpe stole second in the exhibition. “He’s a smart baserunner, so he’s running when he and we feel like he has a high chance of being successful. The amount of steals he got early had a lot to do with people not really knowing him real well yet. He’s not just a natural burner. He’s a great base stealer and really knows how to do it, but he’s gotta get a certain jump to be able to have the success rate that he has.”

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