Yankees: Luke Voit taking full advantage of first real opportunity
The Yankees made a handful of high profile moves before both the July and August trade deadlines, but the trade for Luke Voit was not what one would consider high profile.
The decision to trade Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos to the Cardinals for Voit was probably the least hyped move the Yankees made but it’s hard to argue that anyone has made a bigger impact over the last month than Voit. At the time the move was made it was essentially a way to clear a roster spot and bring back more international slot money.
Once the Yankees acquired Zach Britton to help bolster their bullpen there was no longer a need or spot for Shreve on the roster. Because he was out of options Brian Cashman decided to see what he could get for Shreve by trading him instead of simply designating him for assignment. At the time it didn’t seem like Voit would have much of a future with the Yankees and would spend most of his time with Triple-A Scranton.
However, once the separate trade of Tyler Austin to the Twins for Lance Lynn was completed the following day, it opened up a path for Voit to join the big league roster. After the injury to Aaron Judge, the Yankees called up Voit on August 2nd to platoon with the struggling Greg Bird at first base.
Voit struggled during his first stint with the team going 3 for 17 and he was sent back down to Scranton on August 13th. He was soon recalled to the big leagues on the 21st after Didi Gregorius went on the DL and since then he has provided a massive spark offensively to a lineup that’s been ravaged with injuries.
Voit always hit throughout his time in the Cardinal system with a .288 career average in the minors. But for some reason, he never got an extended opportunity at the big league level. Part of that had to do with his defense but most of it was likely due to him being blocked by Matt Carpenter at first base. Carpenter is currently a leading NL MVP candidate while the Yankees first basemen in Bird has struggled to hit over .200 all season.
Because of Bird’s inconsistent play, the Yankees finally gave Voit the opportunity he has been waiting for his entire career. A chance to play every day. It started in Baltimore over a week ago when during the Yankees four-game sweep over the O’s Voit went off going 7-11 with three home runs and 6 RBI. Since then he has pretty much taken over as the everyday first basemen regardless of if a right or lefty is on the mound.
Voit’s unexpected rise to become a fixture in the Yankees starting lineup has been a pleasant surprise, but don’t expect him to lose his hold on that job anytime soon. Voit deserves to play every day and to potentially be the team’s starting first basemen come October. He’s brought energy and excitement to this team that you don’t really see from Bird and also a knack for getting clutch hits.
His most recent hit came Tuesday night in Oakland when he launched a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning to help the Yanks get a much need win over the team they’re likely to host in the AL Wild Card game.
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It was his third straight game with a home run and his seventh since August 24th which leads all of baseball. Voit’s also hitting .322 as a Yankee and of his seven home runs with the team, five of them have either tied or given them a lead.
Voit’s exploits and clutch play have drawn comparisons to Shane Spencer, another Yankee who came from out of nowhere back in 1998 to help the team in September of that season. At the time Spencer was 26 and went on to hit 10 home runs in September, including three grand slams. He went on to earn a spot on the postseason roster and played an important role in helping the Yankees win their 24th championship.
Voit is already well on his way to putting up similar numbers and contributing in the postseason all because he was finally given his first real opportunity to play consistently. Sometimes that’s all a player needs to make his mark at the big league level and a lot of credit goes to Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone for giving him this chance. Sure Bird’s struggles have opened the door for Voit but give Cashman his props for making something out of nothing in a trade yet again.
It’s been a great story to watch unfold and one that has really showcased the persistence Voit has displayed after spending years in minor leagues. All the work he has put in is finally paying off and now he finds himself as an integral part of a Yankee team that’s expected to compete for a championship.
I don’t think anybody could have seen this coming from Voit but Yankees fans are sure happy to have him. We’re all glued to our TV’s to see what he has in store for us next and the hope is that he can finish his magical season with a championship just like Spencer did back in ’98.