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Evaluating Luke Voit since his return to the Yankees from the IL

Luke Voit’s return from injury resembles the path taken by Aaron Judge.

MLB: Game One-New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It should come as no surprise that Luke Voit needed time to adjust since returning to the Yankees after missing a month with a sports hernia. Through his first 31 plate appearances, Voit managed just two extra-base hits, good for a slugging percentage of .296.

Voit’s numbers have started to come along of late, helping bring his OPS since his return from the IL to .833. He has three extra-base hits in his last four games, helped along by a monster afternoon on Thursday, when he smacked a 110 mph home run to dead center and finished just a triple short of the cycle.

The Yankees are likely hoping that Voit’s recent stretch is a sign that the slugging first baseman has turned a corner in his road back to full health, and that some of the trends that have materialized in recent weeks will level off. Voit’s adjustment after extended time off should be expected, and Thursday excluded, he has been fighting to get back in the zone that he was in down the stretch of last season and the start of 2019.

The good news for Voit since his return is that he has still been able to put together good at-bats, keeping his floor low when he falls into a slump. Voit’s strikeout rate in September is 23.7 percent, his second-lowest monthly mark of the season so far. His BB/K rate is actually the best it’s been since the first month of the season, so Voit hasn’t lost his plate discipline after some time off, especially when looking at his chase rate over the past month.

Data courtesy of Statcast

Up until the past few games, Voit’s problem hadn’t been making contact, but more the nature of said contact. So far in September, Voit’s fly-ball rate is 50%, about 10% more than his next highest monthly mark. His hard-contact percentage is about the same as his season average, but he has only been pulling the ball 25% of the time, nearly half his season mark. So it should be no surprise that his HR/FB rate since his return is 8.3%, a significant drop from his 22.2% mark in July.

On the positive side, we already have evidence of something similar occurring with another Yankee slugger, and he certainly has returned to form. Aaron Judge slumped following his lengthy stint on the IL after recovering from an oblique strain. Judge had trouble pulling the ball and making hard contact to the point where there were some fans who wanted him dropped in the order.

He of course has turned it around and then some, so could Voit be taking a similar route? Judge’s oblique injury, at least based on opinions of Carlos Beltran, could have had lingering effects that lasted through the rest of the season. Could Voit be dealing with something similar? His last couple games suggest that after being slightly off immediately following his return, his time back with the Yankees has helped him shake off any lingering rust. With even more recent injuries to key players, the Yanks would love to have the old Voit back.