clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Luke Voit has been the Yankees’ best hitter in 2019

Voit has silenced critics and established himself as the Yankees’ most reliable hitter in the first half of the 2019 season

MLB: Game One-New York Mets at New York Yankees Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

With the impending return of Aaron Judge, the acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion, and the recent returns of Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius, and Giancarlo Stanton, it’s easy to overlook Luke Voit.

Through all the injuries, breakout performances, and roster maneuvering, Voit has been a constant force for the first-place Yankees. Gary Sanchez has nearly broken Statcast a few times, and Gleyber Torres has tortured the Orioles, but Voit is putting together an all-around body of work that’s unrivaled by anyone else in pinstripes.

It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing for Voit this season. After posting a great .275/.392/.523 line in April, Voit took a step back in May. While his strikeout and walk rates remained just about the same, Voit’s line drive percentage went from 34.6% in April to 16.7% in May, contributing to a 56 point drop in BABIP. The first baseman still blasted six home runs and managed to register a respectable 119 wRC+, but his season began to trend in the wrong direction. For the first time with the Yankees, Voit was forced to make adjustments and bounce back. That’s exactly what he did.

Voit is having his best month of the season, slashing .316/.466/.509 in June. He leads the Yankees with a 167 wRC+ on the month, with Gleyber Torres ‘ 132 mark the next closest. Voit got a bit too pull happy in May, as evidenced by a 54.2% pull rate that was ninth highest in the American League. He’s back down to his career average this month—right around 45%—and he’s using the middle of the field more at 39.4%, much like he did at the end of last season.

The 28-year-old’s command of the strike zone, which is second to none on the Yankees, makes him such a well-balanced hitter. In some regards, Voit has mastered plate discipline better than any other player in the major leagues. There are 15 players that swing at 80% or more of pitches in the strike zone, according to FanGraphs. Of those 15 players, Voit ranks 10th, and he is the only one who chases less than 30% of pitches outside the strike zone (26.7%). His mastery of the zone allows him to contribute, even during stretches when he’s not impacting the ball at an elite level.

Voit’s total body of work at the plate in 2019 is rivaled only by Sanchez. No trait has been more valuable to the 2019 Yankees than durability, and Voit leads the team in games and plate appearances. He also leads the team in runs, walk rate, and OBP, while trailing only Sanchez in home runs, RBI, wOBA, and wRC+. The question after last season was whether Voit was going to be a flash in the pan or not. His Statcast metrics were utterly unsustainable, but Voit once again ranks in the top 7% of MLB players in barrel rate (15.3%) and xWOBA (.388), with nearly twice as large a sample size as last season. Voit has certainly quieted those who said he was a fluke, and he’s been the Yankees’ most valuable hitter this season.