Aaron Boone takes a necessary risk with Yankees lineup amid All-Star's return

Aaron Boone is sticking with what's working despite DJ LeMahieu's looming return.
Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees
Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

The New York Yankees sit atop the crowded AL East at 12-6. It's early in the season, but it's hard not to be encouraged by the Yanks' progress. To the surprise of nobody, Juan Soto and a healthy Aaron Judge have drastically increased New York's offensive firepower. Meanwhile, the Yankees have the fourth-best collective ERA in baseball despite the glaring absence of Gerrit Cole.

Aaron Boone has a real team this season and the Yankees are committed to scaling the competitive mountain after their abysmal 2023 campaign. Few teams are burdened with higher expectations than New York — it's why we can call 82 wins "abysmal," and it's why so many eyeballs are fixed on the Yankees' swift resurgence.

One underrated cog in the Yankees' successful early-season machine has been Anthony Volpe, the talented second-year shortstop. Volpe finished eighth in Rookie of the Year voting last season and earned his first Gold Glove award out of the gate. There was lingering doubt about his presence in the batter's box heading into the new season, though. Volpe slashed .209/.283/.383 as a rookie and was often cited as a point of weakness in the Yankees' impotent offense.

Well, the narrative has shifted rather quickly. Despite expressing hesitance initially, Boone moved Volpe into the leadoff spot six games ago. The 22-year-old's offensive output has done a complete 180. Maybe it's a flash in the pan, a one-off hot spell. Or, Volpe has figured it out. Boone is inclined to believe the latter, judging from his latest comments about New York's lineup.

When asked about the impending return of three-time All-Star DJ LeMahieu, Boone said the Yankees are "probably not taking Anthony [Volpe] out of the leadoff spot."

Aaron Boone doubles down on Anthony Volpe as Yankees leadoff bat

Volpe has been on a heater for the Yankees, slashing .349/.438/.508 with 22 hits, two home runs, 14 runs, and eight RBI in 63 AB. He has been getting on base early and often, with hits in four of six games since moving to the leadoff spot (including a three-hit outing against the Guardians last week).

It's generally smart to put an elite contact hitter with speed in front of Soto and Judge. That's a recipe for success. It also shows impressive and much-needed adaptability on Boone's part. Volpe stepped into the No. 1 spot to replace Gleyber Torres, who has moved back to No. 5 or No. 6 amid his ice-cold start (.206/.321/.235). LaMahieu has manned the leadoff spot for New York in the past, but he's coming off arguably the worst full season of his career.

The Yankees are trending in the right direction, and from the looks of it, Boone won't self-sabotage with an ill-advised lineup shift in the days and weeks to come. It's a good time to root for New York's most prestigious ball club.

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