Yankees Luke Voit needs to play a full season before first base is his


Yankees first baseman Luke Voit is expected to be fully recovered from sports hernia surgery before the start of spring training. However, with Mike Ford looking to capitalize on a solid, albeit brief big league debut, Voit will need to stay healthy and productive to keep the competition at bay.

Luke Voit exploded upon the scene after being acquired by the Yankees in the summer of 2018. And while a strong start to last season was derailed in June due to a sports hernia, he struggled upon his return from the IL and was kept off the postseason roster.

Therefore, it’s only natural to wonder what Voit’s mindset is like as he enters the new year. Prior to missing the playoffs, Voit hit a measly .200/.319/.331 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 24 games.

However, during the MLB Winter Meetings, manager Aaron Boone told Kristie Ackert of the NY Daily News that he expects Voit to be healthy and ready to claim the starting first base spot.

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"“I think Luke Voit comes in healthy, and I think even though he got back and I think was healthy to some degree, still probably wasn’t quite all the way Luke Voit the second half of the season. Luke has proven to be a really impactful hitter and confident that the surgery he had this winter was a successful one and that he will come in and really lay claim to that position.”"

As long as we don’t have the making of another Greg Bird situation (started strong only to become injured continuously), I’m all for Voit getting the benefit of the doubt and being penciled in at first.

If you combine Voit’s season and a half as a member of the Yankees, you get 157 games played. During that time, the soon-to-be-29-year-old slashed .280/.384/.517 with 26 doubles, 35 home runs, 95 RBIs and a 3.7 fWAR.

Naturally, you have to take the combined stats with a grain of salt, especially his 181 strikeouts. However, Voit walked 13.9 percent across 510 plate appearances in 2019, ranking him in the top five percent of all MLB hitters.

While Voit’s defense will never get him confused for Mark Teixeira, before getting injured in the London series versus the Red Sox, Voit did appear more nimble around the bag. Even still, his seven errors across 83 games (706 innings) and negative metrics in just about every category need to be addressed.

As for Voit’s main competition at first base, Mike Voit — he belted 12 homers, 25 RBIs and posted a .559 SLG and .909 OPS in 50 games. The 27-year-old career minor leaguer opened plenty of eyes last season with his 28:17 K:BB ratio (0.61 percent) in 161 plate appearances.

A pull hitter 43 percent of the time in 2019, Ford’s swing is tailor-made for the short porch at Yankee Stadium. And with the Yanks’ dearth of left-handed power bats, Ford could carve out a spot for himself on the opening day roster.

Unfortunately, Ford is no better a defender than Voit, making three errors in 29 games (217 innings).

With D.J. LeMahieu moving back to his natural Gold Glove-winning position of second base, there’s been some chatter that the Yankees could begin to work in 2018 AL Rookie of the Year Runner-up Miguel Andujar at first.

However, Andujar has never played a single inning anywhere other than third base or DH.

Besides, Andujar still needs to prove that his timing at the plate has returned following surgery for a torn labrum — if he’s to win a 25-man roster spot.

So if the Yanks are serious about this experiment, Andujar and the club would be better served if he learned the position at the minor league level.

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Here’s hoping whoever wins the first base job is better prepared on the defensive side of things; otherwise, Aaron Boone will be forced to consistently rotate his infield in the latter innings of close games.