When the news broke that the Yankees were sending Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos to the Cardinals back in July, I have to confess that I was wholly unfamiliar with the player they were getting in return. I had never heard of Luke Voit, and I figured that he would spend the remainder of the season in Triple-A. The Yankees weren’t going to give up on Greg Bird, right?
Frankly, I was just happy that Brian Cashman had found a way to get Shreve out of the bullpen and received more than a bag of balls for him in return. I don’t think even Cashman expected what happened next. Somehow, Voit not only supplanted Bird at first base, but also ended up becoming the Bombers’ best hitter down the stretch.
2018 Statistics: 39 games, 148 plate appearances, .333/.405/.689, 14 home runs, 33 RBI, 28 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 1.3 WAR, 194 wRC+
2019 Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible
Initially, it did appear that Voit was destined to be banished to Triple-A. He joined the Yankees right after the trade and went 3-for-17 over the course of ten days. There was no real reason to have him play instead of Bird if he was going to hit similarly, so the Bombers sent him to Scranton. Voit slashed .310/.375/.483 during nine games with the RailRiders, and that was enough to earn him a second look. This time, he stuck in the majors.
On August 24th, Voit went 3-for-5 with two home runs against the Orioles. Those were his first dingers in a Yankees uniform, but they were just the start of his success. Voit basically became a beacon of light at a time when most of the team was slumping down the stretch. He took over as the team’s starting first baseman, and he went on a tear for the rest of the season.
I kept waiting for him to fall back to earth, or for the Yankees to start running Bird out there again, but Voit played so well that they just couldn’t. He always seemed to come up with a big hit, and displayed tremendous power. He may not have been the best defender at first base, but his bat more than made up for it.
The real question moving forward is whether Voit is the real deal. He has always hit well in the minors, but that never translated in the big leagues when he was with the Cardinals. It’s probably safe to say that he isn’t a career .300/.400/.650 hitter, but can he come anywhere close to that success again in 2019? I sure hope so. He made August and September fun. Barring any trades, we’re probably looking at Voit and Bird competing for the first base job during spring training. Whatever happens with Voit in the future, we’ll always have that two-homer game against the Red Sox to remember him by.