If not for DJ LeMahieu’s amazing season, Yankees fans would have been throwing all of their weight behind Luke Voit in the American League MVP race. Voit built a strong case throughout 2020 as he was on his way to leading baseball with 22 home runs and in the process cemented himself as one of the best first baseman in the game. He has brought stability to the position for the Yankees for the first time since Mark Teixeira manned the position.
2020 Statistics: 56 G, .277/.338/.610, 22 HR, 52 RBI, 156 OPS+, 1.5 bWAR, 1.8 fWAR
Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration for 2021.
It seemed like some Yankees fans did not want to believe in Luke Voit heading into 2020. Despite posting a 156 wRC+ over his first 117 games with the Yankees, an injury during the Yankees-Red Sox series in London led to struggles down the stretch. That injury would require offseason surgery, but there were still those who doubted that he was a long-term solution in the Bronx, much less ready to take a spot among the best in the game.
The story of his year will be the home runs, as Voit consistently bashed dingers at a consistent rate. He was able to barrel the ball 13.1% of the time per Statcast, which ranked in the 86th percentile of all major league hitter, and was very much in line with his 2019 numbers.
Voit’s ability to contribute seemed to be in question at points as he began sporting a noticeable limp during the season. After the season, Yankees GM Brian Cashman confirmed that Voit had been battling Plantar Fasciitis that would require treatment this offseason.
Despite playing most of the season on an injured foot, Voit’s defensive numbers improved in 2020. Both his UZR/150 and his range ratings improved from 2019. He is still not an elite defender but was much closer to league average this past season, an impressive feat given his injury problems.
While still providing elite production, one area of Voit’s game that trended down was his walk rate. He took free passes six-percent less often compared to 2019, leading to a much lower OBP even with his tremendous rate of hard contact.
The lower walk rate is not as much of a concern, as Voit also struck out less. His batted ball profile explains the power increase as he pulled the ball and hit fly ball’s more often. Voit showed that he has more than enough power to take the ball out to left field in Yankee Stadium.
Proving once again to be a steady force, he occupied the second spot in the lineup for most of the season with Aaron Judge on the injured list. Voit also stepped in to hit leadoff three times during the year as well. Injuries did not prevent Voit from punching the clock every day throughout the season.
Voit was not the same offensive force in the postseason, however, as he connected on just one home run in 50 plate appearances. He did post a .340 OBP in the postseason and the one home run came with the season on the line in Game four of the ALDS.
Luke Voit has solidified himself as a key piece of the Yankees lineup moving forward. He is one of the best power hitters in baseball, and he will be looking to build off his incredible run since joining the Yankees in 2021.