After bursting onto the scene with the Yankees midway through the 2018 season, Luke Voit took a step back during his first full year with the team, and that was mostly due to injuries. An abdominal strain held him out for two weeks, then he suffered a sports hernia which kept him out for a month, but lingered throughout the rest of the season.
Voit was on the roster in the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins but didn’t get into a game, and didn’t even make the roster against the Houston Astros in the ALCS. However, Voit is now fully healthy and controls his own destiny.
By no means did Voit have a bad 2019 season. He hit to a .360 wOBA and 126 wRC+, and his .378 on-base percentage was not only the highest among all qualified Yankees, but even in the top-10 in all of baseball. He didn’t have a ton of playing time before last year, so he did end up setting career-highs in a bunch of different categories as well.
During his 47-game season in 2018, Voit registered a barrel percentage of 20.0 percent. While that is a small sample, it is an impressive number. Last year, Voit proved that his barrel numbers were not a fluke. Playing in a larger sample size of 118-game season last year, he squared-up 13.2 percent of his hits, which was in the top nine percent of the league. His walk rate was also in the top-10 percent of the league as he got a free pass on 13.9 percent of his at-bats.
Another thing Voit did well last year was his recognition of pitches. While he was exceptional at being able to tell when the fastball was coming and put it in play, he was also able to read offspeed and breaking pitches as well. To put those statements into prospective, his xwOBA for each of the three categories of pitches mentioned were above a .320 mark, with an xwOBA of nearly .400 against the heater. His individual batting averages against those pitches may not reflect his success, but there is a considerable chance that he puts it together this year.
Voit can hit the ball hard and get on base often, but he’s going to need to find a consistency in order for him to have his “breakout” season. His health derailed what was the most impactful performance the Yankees have gotten from their first basemen since Mark Teixiera retired, but Voit is a ways away from reaching that peak yet. Voit is clearly not a defensive first baseman — as his -6 Outs Above Average in 2019 suggests — but the offensive tools he has more than makes up for it. He has a host of defensive talent backing him up around the diamond while he attempts to improve, but as long as Voit brings that steady bat back into the Yankee lineup regularly he could be one of the better players on the roster for 2020.