Luke Voit has burst onto the scene in incredible fashion for the Yankees so far, slugging seven home runs in a 12-game span, including a go-ahead bomb in Oakland on Tuesday night. That wound up being critical to the team salvaging a game against their likely Wild Card Game opponent.
Voit’s Bay Area blast provided another opportunity to marvel at what has been a brilliant move by Brian Cashman, who acquired him from the Cardinals with just 137 major league plate appearances under his belt, including five home runs. Voit has already eclipsed that total in 65 plate appearances with the Yankees.
The 27-year-old’s late season contributions have been a pleasant surprise to say the least, but he certainly isn’t alone in that regard. It’s worth taking a look at past Yankees who emerged from out of nowhere to help the team down the stretch.
Alfonso Soriano, 2013
Soriano was obviously a familiar face in the Bronx, but his production in 2013 was certainly unexpected. He made his return to the Yankees prior to the trade deadline, and brought a .754 OPS with him. The 37-year-old didn’t seem to have too much left in the tank, until he emptied it in glorious fashion, slugging 11 home runs from August 1st to September 1st. He helped the painfully shorthanded Yankees stay in the playoff chase.
Soriano hit another five dingers in September to finish with 17 homers as a Yankee in 2013, equal to the amount he hit in four months with the Cubs prior to the trade. This sudden offensive spurt sent fans back in a time machine to 2003, at least for a month or two.
Joba Chamberlain, 2007
Speaking of keeping the Yankees in a playoff chase, the 2007 Bombers would have had much more trouble making their playoff push had it not been for the arrival of Chamberlain in early August. Sure, he was a first round pick and highly touted prospect, but nobody expected the 21-year-old to become a shutdown setup man for Mariano Rivera.
Chamberlain didn’t allow an earned run through his first 16 major league innings, striking out 20 in the process. He would allow just one earned run all season through 24 innings. Of course, there was also one infamous night in Cleveland, when he battled a swarm of midges in an otherwise very forgettable series.
Raul Ibanez, 2012
Like Soriano in 2013, the aging Ibanez provided an offensive spark for the Yankees the year before. The 40-year-old still had some pop in his bat in 2012, hitting 15 home runs through the month of August. It wasn’t until September, however, before his bat truly came alive. He swatted four homers in 68 plate appearances and finished the month with an .879 OPS.
Ibanez’s productive September gave manager Joe Girardi faith in the veteran come playoff time, setting up some classic moments in the ALDS and ALCS.
Shane Spencer, 1998
It’s only fitting to conclude with the most obvious addition to this list. Spencer arrived in the Bronx 20 years ago, after spending nine seasons in the minor leagues. He wound up swinging the hottest bat for the best team in baseball history. In 42 September plate appearances, Spencer crushed eight home runs (including three grand slams), good for a ludicrous 1.581 OPS.
The former 28th round pick became yet another feel-good story for the ‘98 Yanks. He even carried his production into the ALDS, where he helped the Yankees complete a sweep of the Rangers before his bat finally came back down to earth.
Who were some other late season contributors that caught you by surprise? Let us know in the comments below!