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Pitchers may have exposed a weakness in Luke Voit

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Opposing hurlers have targeted a weakness for Luke Voit, and it’s up to him to adjust back.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Voit is still rather new to MLB stardom as his career takes off in a Yankee uniform. He was traded to New York last year in a fairly lopsided trade with the Cardinals, who got Giovanny Gallegos and Chasen Shreve, both relievers, in return for the big first baseman. Voit dominated down the stretch in 2018, won the starting first-base job in spring training, and quickly became one of the best first basemen of 2019, picking up where he left off from last year. Batting .280 with 17 homers and 50 RBI in the first half, one could easily argue Voit got robbed of an All-Star roster spot.

With his great performance so far, Voit has won over the hearts of most Yankee fans and has become a plus everyday starter. However, with more playing time, pitchers get to see him more often, and some may have found a small weak spot that Voit has recently struggled with.

For the most part, pitchers seem to pitch Voit outside and that is essentially where he has lived and died (note this is from the catcher’s perspective):

Yet more recently, pitchers have seemed to attack Voit on the inside half of the plate, and especially with two strikes. Take a look at this first heatmap, which shows where two-strike pitches were thrown to Voit in the first half:

All outside or low and away. Now take a look at where two-strike pitches have been thrown to Voit so far in the second half:

Notice that there is a lot more red on the left side of the heatmap (the inside half of the plate for a right-handed batter) than in the previous one. What has become noticeable is that Voit has hesitated on inside pitches in the strike zone. Most of them seem like hittable pitches, but Voit won’t budge. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.

Now those are just two pitches and nobody can be convinced with that. So here are two more heatmaps that show Voit’s swing percentage on two-strike counts in the first half and then so far in the second half respectively.

There is an alarming drop off in his percentage of swings on pitches on the inside half of the plate. This has become a pretty consistent problem so far in the second half for Voit. He has stopped swinging at those inside pitches, so naturally, pitchers are attacking that part of the plate more. This will be something Voit has to fix before the postseason.

In other news, as of just a few days ago, Voit was added to the 10-day IL due to an abdominal sports hernia. He may need surgery and if he does he’ll be out for about six weeks. Depending on when he comes back from injury, he may have limited time to fix this issue. However, he does not have to worry at all about his spot being taken at first as Greg Bird has not even resumed baseball activities yet this season. First base will be there for Luke Voit when he gets back no matter what.