Last year the Yankees traded relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos away at the deadline to the Cardinals for their backup first baseman Luke Voit. He capitalized on his opportunities, displacing the struggling and injured Greg Bird. He went from an able backup to key lineup piece in a matter of weeks.
It was on August 21 that Voit got called up for the second time, but this time it was for good. The Yankees and Brian Cashman struck gold once again as Voit became basically the best hitter in baseball over the last month and a half of the season. Combine the tail-end of August with the entire month of September and Voit hit .333 with 14 homers and an OPS of 1.095 in just 39 games with the team. The Yankees stuck with him as their first baseman heading into the postseason, but an early exit in the Division Series put the Voit joy ride in 2018 to sleep.
Coming into 2019 and spring training, Cashman and Aaron Boone were both very vocal about the fact that with a healthy Greg Bird, the first base job would be up for grabs. Both put up a fight and hit very well but Voit had one leg up based on his finish to the 2018 season, so he ended up with the job on Opening Day.
Many questioned whether Voit was the real deal or could come close to replicating his 2018 success. That was unlikely since that would make him the best player in baseball, but could he at least produce at half of that clip? He answered immediately by hitting a home run in his first at-bat of 2019. Voit would end the month of April by pairing eight dingers with a 145 wRC+. By this point, he had essentially convinced Yankee fans that he was indeed a great hitter that was deserving of a spot in the lineup every day.
When May came around, however, Voit ran into his first legitimate slump. From May 3 to May 15 Voit collected two hits in 33 at-bats. Nobody freaked out and Voit did not lose his spot in the lineup. Fans did question when he would break out of his slump though.
Luke Voit last eight games:— Greg Bird Resurgence Bandwagon (@GregBirdRBW) May 13, 2019
33 Plate Appearances
30.3% K Rate
1 hit in last 28 at-bats dating back to 5/3
To escape this 2-for-33 slump, Voit whipped out two games in which he went 6-for-8 with two RBI. Since May 17 he owns a tremendous 171 wRC+.
Luke Voit's night— YES Network (@YESNetwork) May 16, 2019
2 RBI pic.twitter.com/NwPgalDz0q
It has only been a few games since he has bounced back, but seeing Voit find himself again proves so much about what type of hitter he is. It is indeed an incredibly small sample size, but even though this is a smaller degree, we’ve seen this before from another Yankee.
In his first two seasons, we’ve seen Aaron Judge go through multiple aggressive slumps and bounce back from all of them with success. It is good to see that another premier hitter the Yankees have has the ability to do this too. Back in 2017, over the span of two months Judge’s wRC+ decreased from 197 to 102. Now, Judge’s slump was rather monumental compared to Voit’s, however, it just shows how the two have similar skill sets when it comes to hitting. Both are at the top of the league in exit velocity and barrel percentage and both are power hitters. Now we know both are also disciplined hitters who have the ability to get in a rut and get out of one. Who knew this is what the Yankees would get in return for Shreve and Gallegos?