Luke Voit
Fluke Voit? Nope. The Yankees found their cornerstone First Baseman with Luke Voit (Julio Cortez/AP)

On July 28th, 2018, the Yankees made what seemed like a minor trade. They sent Chasen Shreve (later released) and Giovanny Gallegos (4.20 career ERA) for first baseman Luke Voit AND International Bonus Money. My first takeaway to the trade was “Why in the world are teams just giving the Yankees more international bonus money for no reason?” It’s just not a wise thing to do for any team. It turns out that Voit turned into a star too.

Let’s get into this from the Cardinals point of view. Voit had become buried on the depth chart. With no DH in the NL, the Cardinals had limited options. Matt Carpenter is starting to age and belongs at first base. Jose Martinez also has a hot stick and St. Louis really has nowhere to play him. Do you actually need two guys that don’t have a position? All of a sudden, you can talk yourself into trading Luke Voit who never did much at the major league level. Even now, the Cardinals have fixed the issue by trading for Paul Goldschmidt.

Then when you consider this next piece of information, you have to wonder what John Mozeliak must have been thinking. Luke Voit was drafted by the Cardinals. He is from Missouri. Voit played catcher at Missouri State. If Voit was going to fail, it should have been in a Cardinals uniform. Instead, the Cardinals gave up on a hometown kid that bleeds red. That’s inexcusable.

The Yankees have a ton of information that told them that Voit was being undervalued. It’s not surprising considering that Voit was crushing balls at AAA Memphis. The Cardinals AAA team was loaded. In 299 plate appearances, Voit hit .299 and 9 homers. It’s not like the guy wasn’t hitting. The Yankees took advantage of the Cardinals. It’s as simple as that.

First base is an area the Yankees haven’t found a real replacement for since Mark Teixeria took off the pinstripes. Greg Bird was also the furthest thing from the answer who can’t play or stay healthy. That left a massive hole for the taking. Once Voit put on the pinstripes, he claimed the job pretty much from day one. Voit made an impact right away slashing .333/.405/.689 in 148 plate appearances from August 2nd until the end of the season. Voit’s advanced numbers were also eye-popping ranking second in the majors in isolated power (.356), third in wRC+ (194) and sixth in home runs (14).

But this couldn’t be real… could it? Voit was putting up video game numbers. The 2019 season was going to have a lot to say about Voit’s legitimacy. Was he Luke Voit or Fluke Voit? Well, Voit has done nothing except prove he is the long term answer at first for the Bronx Bombers. Voit isn’t just the first baseman the Yankees need, he is a cornerstone for the franchise.

Luke Voit
Statcast

You could make the argument that Voit was the best hitter in baseball in that 2018 stretch. He ranked first in XY Weighted On Base Average. From a no namer in St. Louis to star in the Bronx? It just didn’t make any sense… except that it did.

Voit is built like a machine. He can bench 135 with one hand. The Cardinals had to have watch Voit work out at some point. How do you give up on this?

Instead of being a bearded slugger in the Cardinals lineup, Voit turned into a clean cut swag monster with his jersey unbuttoned and 4 chains around his neck. Voit just looks like a star and has become one. Since Voit was acquired, he has hit 46 hard hit balls according to Statcast. That leads the Yankees.

Thus far as of June 5th, 2019, Voit is the best first baseman in the American League. He has my vote for the All-Star Game. In 217 at-bats, Voit has a batting line of .272/.384/.521. His OPS is over .900 and is on pace for well over 30 homers (15 as of now). While Voit hasn’t been able to continue his crazy end of 2018 (that was virtually unsustainable) he is still a very good baseball player and continues to show signs of improvement. The Yankees first baseman has cut his strikeout rate by more than 3 percent and upped the walk rate from 10.6% to 13.2%. There’s also reason to suggest that his numbers will continue to improve once he starts hitting left-handed pitchers (.239 average against in 2019). Voit swings it from the right side and mashed lefties for his entire career.

The Yankees are currently in first place despite leading the league in players on the Injured List. Luke Voit’s steady production is one of many reasons why they have managed to weather the storm. Instead, Voit has become the storm in the middle of the Yankees lineup. Fluke Voit? Nope. Voit isn’t just the first baseman New York needs, he’s a cornerstone building block for the Yanks moving forward.