Yankees first baseman Luke Voit set the tone for the team’s 10-game winning streak and playoff clinch.
Less than two weeks after a trip to the postseason felt like an uphill battle for a Yankees team that had just fallen to .500 without a single trend pointing in the right direction, the team has clinched a spot in the dance.
And in 2020, no matter their seeding, that’s really all that matters.
It does feel pertinent to mention how they did it, though. On Friday Sept. 11, the Orioles could’ve passed the Yankees for the final postseason spot with a doubleheader sweep. That really could’ve happened. But after the .500 dip, the team is 10-1 and in the playoffs. What changed? Why did everything start clicking?
Look to the leadership of their young and well-adjusted franchise’s face: A̶a̶r̶o̶n̶ ̶B̶o̶o̶ Luke Voit!
On Sept. 8, Voit said what no Yankee in this well-manicured clubhouse seemed willing to say, when every individual committee on the roster — the lineup, bullpen, rotation and bench — refused to sync on any day to grab even a single win. They weren’t “close to clicking” and they weren’t “one pitch away” from a different result — they were bad. Bad, bad, bad.
And only Voit seemed willing to say it out loud.
So often, these narratives are overcomplicated during the seemingly wild swings of an MLB season. With 162 games in a slate, players don’t want to become reactionary fans, assessing their day-in, day-out performance the way a snarky Twitter account would.
But in a 60-game sprint, everything is different. And when a quarter of the season has been taken up by an unacceptable sample size, it’s incumbent upon the team’s leaders to loudly call the results a disaster.
It’s also helpful that Voit, specifically, has turned himself into the ultimate warrior in 2020, leading the AL in home runs with 21 while obviously and very publicly battling foot issues. The words simply mean more coming out of his mouth.
And that much is obvious, now that the season’s trajectory has changed completely in under two weeks.
A postseason clinch is just the first challenge for a Yankees team with far higher expectations. But before Voit opened his mouth, then proceeded to lead by example with his bat, it seemed as if the team was on the verge of the unthinkable. The ultimate embarrassment.
And all they had to do to flip the season on its head was admit to themselves that what had happened was embarrassing, and acknowledge that it wasn’t going to happen anymore.