New York Yankees fans truly cannot pinpoint one singular issue dooming the team at the moment.
It’s an orchestra of incompetence that’s left them 5-7 to start the season. It’s so bad, in fact, that three of those wins didn’t even feel that great. There wasn’t anything overly convincing or exciting during those triumphs that made fans feel optimistic about the next day.
But if we want to talk about this team from an identity and character standpoint, one thing is very much clear.
The Yankees miss Luke Voit more than anyone could have ever imagined.
A painfully obvious shortcoming with a number of the Yankees’ rosters over the last few years has been the intangibles. No true clubhouse leader. The energy is non-existent. Manager Aaron Boone doesn’t hold anybody accountable. The body language resembles that of a downtrodden little league team. On an individual basis, it’s really hard to see who wants to step up in crucial moments. Sure, we get that players will come through from time to time. That’s just how baseball works. But that’s not in the Yankees’ DNA.
And they’ve needed a guy like Voit screaming after strikeouts, pimping home runs, enthusiastically celebrating his teammates successes, and, from time to time, maybe knocking around a water cooler when things don’t go his way.
His 22 homers in 56 games would help, too.
But forget his talent on the field. That’s the last thing that matters for the Yankees. They have “stars” — or at least well-known names — at nearly every position. What they need is an influential presence.
Voit inherently brings that with his contagious energy, and unlike the rest of the roster, he’s not afraid to say what needs to be said.
Even the Yankees’ postgame press conferences are lethargic amid this slump, which one could argue dates back to last year. “Yeah, uh, we missed opportunities. Can’t be making mistakes. We need to play better.”
How about something inflammatory that makes the locker room open their eyes? How about a good old, “We suck, and that needs to change right now.” That’s surely something Voit would say if he was active and witnessing firsthand what was going on when this team takes the field.
Remember when he put everyone on blast amid the horrid losing streak in August last year? That turned the ship right around.
It’d sure be nice if there was more than one player on this roster who was able to motivate his teammates, keep everyone in check, and be loud when nobody else is.
The Yankees simply lack those personalities in nearly every corner. DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber are dubbed “robots” because of their lack of emotion. Giancarlo Stanton is seemingly out of place because the New York crowd has not treated him all that well. Aaron Judge is your diplomat — it’s all by the book and not a deviation in sight. Gerrit Cole is probably your next closest vocal leader to Voit, but again, that’s not going to be enough on a team that’s aspiring to be World Series champs.
When Voit returns in May and there’s a colossal shift in attitude, hopefully it rubs off on the rest of the team “leaders,” because he won’t be able to do it all by himself.