Where would the New York Yankees be without Luke Voit this season?
The preeminent talking point with the Yankees has been injuries. DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, James Paxton, Aroldis Chapman, and Zack Britton, among others have spent time on the injured list this season.
While most, if not every team in Major League Baseball has dealt with their fair share of injuries throughout the sport’s 60-game sprint, it’s fair to say that the Yankees have encountered a few more substantial injuries than the field.
The constant through thick and thin? That would be Luke Voit.
The first baseman has been an elite power outlet. He’s hitting .283, slugging .659, sporting a 1.001 OPS, and has totaled 20 home runs and 46 RBIs. Fun fact: Voit is first in MLB in home runs, second in slugging and RBIs, and eighth in OPS.
When Voit makes contact, it’s not soft contact: it’s full-blown demolition. His 20 home runs make up roughly 41 percent of his hit total (49). His home runs also aren’t necessarily long fly balls, rather he’s hitting sheer line drives to all fields.
Voit has been the recurring first baseman for most of his two years with the Yankees. All in all, he has performed in the top half of the sport in offense over that time period. That said, one could argue his production is inflated by playing in Yankee Stadium (short left and right-field porch) and hitting around a handful of premier hitters. This season, though, that argument cannot be made.
With half the projected lineup card out due to injuries, Voit has hit all over manager Aaron Boone‘s lineup and answered the bell. He doesn’t have protection behind him, and teams are still pitching to him. The 29-year-old is as dangerous as any hitter in the sport, regardless of name recognition or pedigree.
It goes without saying that sports are star-driven, and the Yankees have many of them, therefore they’re the story on a year-round basis. Will Gerrit Cole pitch into his $324 million contract? Will Judge win the American League Most Valuable Player Award? Can this team stay healthy?
There weren’t pressing questions about Voit because he doesn’t have the nationwide recognition that some of his teammates do. With the Yankees roster getting close to full force, the focus has already shifted to how long it will take for them to get into a groove at the plate; Voit is secondary news once more.
What do the Yankees and the sport as a whole expect from heavy swingers like Judge, Stanton, and Gary Sanchez? The answer is exactly what Voit is doing. He has offset some of the absences, performing like the player they pay and/or rely on Stanton and Judge to be and at a $25 million discount.
Sure, LeMahieu is the locomotive of their offense, but Voit is the coal car that keeps raking at a high level. Let’s be honest: if any of the Yankees homegrown players are putting up Voit’s numbers, their every at-bat would be regarded as must-see television.
Voit is among general manager Brian Cashman’s best reclamation projects in his 23 years on the job. In August 2018 the Yankees sent relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos to the St. Louis Cardinals for the power-hitting corner infielder and international signing bonus pool money. It was a minor transaction that became the steal of the season, as Voit powered his way into the three hole.
Voit is probably the sixth-biggest name in a fully healthy Yankees lineup. He would be hitting behind a slew of heavy swingers, paving the way for Voit to drive in runs at an even higher clip. The Yankees scored 43 runs in their three-game sweep of the rival Toronto Blue Jays earlier this week with appearances from Judge, Torres, and Stanton.
The Yankees, who have won eight games in a row, need all the help they can get around the diamond for the playoffs, as there are teams with stellar and/or improving pitching staffs likely appearing in such play like the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, and Chicago White Sox. Heck, the Yankees probably have to prepare for one or more of their veterans to hit the injured list given their chronic struggles to stay on the field in recent memory. If that scenario plays out, the Yankees know they can at least sport a competent offense.
The Yankees will have some tough decisions to make in the offseason, as several veterans hit the open market (LeMahieu, Paxton, Brett Gardner, and Masahiro Tanaka). If the Yankees lose one or two position players, they have a stout development in Voit, who can offset a positional departure.
Without Luke Voit, the Yankees may not be going to the playoffs; he has kept them afloat in the AL.
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