The Yankees placed Luke Voit on the 10-day IL with a sports hernia back on July 31. A hernia normally requires surgery to repair and commonly takes up to six weeks to heal. Opting for the procedure could derail his season, especially the longer he waits. At this point, a return from a surgery like that would most likely come in last week of September, and that’s if everything goes right.
Luckily, Voit’s sports hernia is a little different than a traditional one. He opted to skip surgery and appears close to returning. He reportedly will begin a rehab assignment with the Triple-A RailRiders on Thursday. The first baseman should get plenty of at-bats with the team in September.
For Yankee fans, it’s a great sign that Voit is working towards a return. You may not notice Voit’s impact while atop the AL East in mid-August, but his contributions to the team are critical. The Yankees have no issue filling in the position defensively with DJ LeMahieu and Mike Ford around, but missing Voit’s bat is what could hurt the club. While it may not seem like it, Voit is a hidden contact hitter in addition to his power bat.
It may not show directly in his .278 batting average, which isn’t bad, but Voit has the best BABIP out of all first baseman in the MLB this year at .359. He is a big, muscular guy who looks like a pure power hitter from the outside. When he puts the ball in play, though, he gets a hit more often than any other first baseman in baseball. Sure the Yankees have added some great contact hitters in LeMahieu and Gio Urshela, but to have another guy in that lineup that can put the ball in play and keep the baserunners moving is paramount.
Remember last season, when criticism emerged that the Yankees were too reliant on the home run to score? Voit goes a long way towards preventing that. With the third-highest OBP of first baseman and the sixth-best wOBA, his rare combination of contact and power needs to be present for this team. By no means will Voit win the batting title or maybe even break a .300 batting average, but the BABIP doesn’t lie. The Yankees will need that to compete against the league’s best pitching in the postseason.
“Everything is feeling good,” Voit told George King on Friday. With his return impending, the Yankees should feel good too. They will add a significant bat to their lineup for the stretch run and into the playoffs. Their already impressive batting order will get all the much deeper.