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Anthony Volpe made the Yankees roster: Should he be AL Rookie of the Year favorite?

New York appears to have a new shortstop of the future on the roster. We break down how Volpe’s AL ROTY odds have skyrocketed.

The New York Yankees announced Sunday that prized-prospect Anthony Volpe has made the Opening Day roster and is set to start at shortstop. There has been hype around Volpe all Spring and it had appeared unlikely early on that he’d make the roster. A few weeks and a lot of spectacular baseball later and Volpe is the Yankees’ starting shortstop. We’re going to look at Volpe’s chances of winning AL Rookie of the Year and how his odds have skyrocketed over the past couple weeks.

AL Rookie of the Year odds

As of Sunday after the announcement, Volpe’s odds moved to +500 to win AL Rookie of the Year. That’s even with Boston Red Sox OF Masataka Yoshida and just behind Baltimore Orioles 3B Gunnar Henderson at +265. There’s still about a week before Opening Day. Might we see Volpe overtake Yoshida and Henderson in terms of odds and become the favorite? It seems likely.

It really comes down to opportunity.

Volpe is going to have plenty of that. If he does stick as the starting SS, there’s a good chance he bats leadoff for the Yankees at some point. It could be Opening Day. Manager Aaron Boone could also choose to start Volpe back in the lineup to ease him in a bit. Volpe also doesn’t seem like the type that will have a problem batting anywhere. Entering Sunday, Volpe has the most ABs this Spring for any Yankees player (51) and he’s hitting .314 with three HRs and five stolen bases.

The two X-Factors for Volpe in winning AL ROTY? Speed and defense.

Volpe is a plus-defender at short and made a handful of impressive plays over Spring Training. He feels like a player that will probably win a few gold gloves if he pans out and reaches his ceiling. That defense could translate right away, which could strengthen Volpe’s AL ROTY case if his offense is about average.

Stolen bases are something the Yankees have lacked for a while it seems. Volpe played 275 games in the minors and had 89 stolen bases. Last season, he set a career high with 50. Volpe’s speed at the top of the lineup could be huge if he can get on base consistently. He’d also be hitting in front of reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge, which would mean a decent amount of runs.

It seems the best-case scenario for Volpe is batting leadoff on a AL East-winning Yankees team, batting around .280-.300 while playing above-average defense and swiping bags. Volpe in the spotlight will certainly give him the narrative boost. Playing well out the gate on a Yankees squad will draw a lot of Derek Jeter comparisons (which won’t be fair at all). It’s unrealistic to think Volpe will be anything close to Jeter but you’ll see it written if Volpe does well enough. If he can get by that hurdle created by the media, Volpe has a very good shot at winning AL ROTY.