One of a kind: Volpe becomes 1st Yanks rookie with 20-20 season

22-year-old infielder makes history with clutch 9th-inning homer

August 31st, 2023

DETROIT -- The Yankees’ late-season commitment to “go younger” has not only drummed up excitement for the future, it has been a pleasant surprise this year as well.

made his debut in March, so he’s been at this a little longer than some of the new newcomers. He’s also had some time to rack up a pretty impressive resume while he’s paving the way.

On Thursday afternoon, Volpe became the first rookie in Yankees history -- and the 15th in AL/NL history -- to notch a 20-20 season (20 home runs and 20 steals) by swatting a three-run homer in New York’s 4-3 loss to the Tigers in 10 innings at Comerica Park.

"When he has a game where there's a couple of at-bats where it seems like maybe he's a little overmatched or they're attacking a weakness, he doesn't flinch," manager Aaron Boone said. "And he still ends up being the guy you want up there in a big spot, and [he] kind of has a knack for those things."

Even though New York just missed out on its first four-game win streak in more than two months, the youth movement continued to find its path in Detroit this week.

Volpe’s knock was the reason the Yankees had a chance in extras. The 22-year-old, who hit his 19th homer on Tuesday, said prior to the series finale that he wasn’t concerned about individual accolades and he hadn’t paid much attention to the impending milestone.

But a game-tying three-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth? Surely, no one could resist swinging for the fences with that on the line.

"I guess it's pretty crazy," said Volpe, who pounced on an 0-1 sinker from Alex Lange that came in a bit too high. "I never really had goals like that going into the season, numbers-wise, but when you can kind of put yourself in Yankees history ... that's pretty cool."

Volpe is the second rookie this season to hit the 20-20 mark, joining the D-backs’ Corbin Carroll. The only other seasons in which multiple rookies reached that milestone came in 2022 (Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez and Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr.) and 1987 (Boston’s Ellis Burks and California’s Devon White).

"It was pretty electric [in the dugout]," said Clarke Schmidt, who started the game and was let off the hook for the loss when Volpe’s homer cleared the right-field wall. "It's great to see such a good kid and hard worker, and I think he's going to have a really, really bright future.

"Obviously, this is kind of just the beginning of the process for him."

Volpe didn’t wait for the finale to rise to the occasion; he cranked out four hits -- two doubles and two homers -- during the four-game set in Detroit. All told, 41 of his 97 hits this year have gone for extra bases.

He’s not the only newbie making waves lately, either.

Everson Pereira -- New York’s No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- enjoyed his first career multi-RBI game and stole his first base on Wednesday. Oswald Peraza, who spent last September with New York and was promoted this season on the same day as Pereira, showed his range at third in that same game, and then later smashed a ball to the fences that had a 95% hit probability, only to be robbed of his first homer of the year by rookie center fielder Parker Meadows.

"It's kind of exciting, to be honest," staff ace Gerrit Cole said. "There's young blood in the house and they're learning about the big leagues. They're learning about themselves.

“It's not a lot of high-pressure games right now. But at the same time, they're going to come up and they're going to bring it, and it's going to be fun to watch. We're excited to have them and excited to see them get their feet wet.”

Boone has stressed that the rest of the season is about winning each day and remaining focused on the game as opposed to bigger-picture distractions such as the team’s overall record. But it’s hard to imagine the Yankees (65-69) aren’t still actively fighting to avoid their first losing season since 1992, when they finished 76-86.

The current youth movement -- with more talent coming Friday -- has helped provide a positive distraction in the clubhouse as much as it has infused energy into the daily grind.

"It is fun to see those guys go about it, knowing they're getting an opportunity," Boone said. "And hopefully, they can continue to grow in the roles."