2020 Season Preview – Luke Voit
Luke Voit won over the hearts of millions of New Yorkers in the second half of 2018. He hit 14 home runs and had a ridiculous .333/.405/.689 slash line in 39 games with the Yankees after being acquired from the Cardinals. His powerful home runs and infectious joy filled New York every time he stepped on the field. The highlight of this run came in the Wild Card Game against the A’s, when he just missed hitting a home run to right. He still ended on third base with a two-run triple to give the Bombers a 5-0 lead that would rock Yankees Stadium.
His first full season in the Bronx was up and down. He did hit 21 home runs and get on base at a high clip (71 walks and a .378 on-base-percentage). His strong first half (.280/.393/.509) was enough to earn him heavy All-Star consideration. However, he also missed considerable time due to injuries (just 118 games played) and plummeted back to Earth in the second half with an abysmal slash line (.228/.348/.368) and only four home runs. He even lost a spot on the Yankees’ 2019 ALCS roster.
So, where does that leave Voit going into this season? Here are a few thoughts on what the Bomber’s first baseman can and will do in 2020.
LAST SEASON’S FINALS:
510 PA, .263 BA, .378 OBP, .464 SLG, 21 HR, 62 RBI, 1.7 FanGraphs WAR
499 PA, .266 BA, .361 OBP, .480 SLG, 23 HR, 74 RBI, 2.3 WAR
In terms of classic statistics, Voit is projected to finish about the same in terms of at-bats, batting average, and home runs. This would make sense, given that he may have to share time at first with Miguel Andujar and Mike Ford. ZiPS is also expecting Voit to get on base less than last year. The one area Voit is expected to improve upon based on these projections would be his power, increasing his slugging by 16 points.
Keep in mind that Voit is entering his age 29 season. That is to say that he is still in his prime baseball years, so expecting his power to stay the same would not be a huge surprise in my projections.
In terms of defense, well, don’t expect Mark Teixeira-like production at first. He has had provided his team negative value on defense in his brief time in the majors, according to FanGraphs. On likely plays (in which a player would make said play 60-90 percent of the time), Voit only makes 53.8 percent of plays. On even plays (a player would make 40-60 percent of said plays), Voit makes 16.7 percent of plays, once again according to FanGraphs.
As for baserunning, Voit may be even worse in that department. He’s one of the slowest players on the Yankees and provided -3.8 base running value last season according to FanGraphs.
This is to say that most of Voit’s production is going to come from his stick. For Voit to contribute at the plate, he needs to stay healthy. Clearly, his production tapering off in the second half was because of his Abdominal Strain and Sports Hernia. The Voit that intruiged fans in 2018 was a healthy player who could hit home runs to all fields (nine of his 14 home runs in 2018 were hit either to center field or to right field, via FanGraphs).
Based on his minor league performance (in which Voit hit .290/.371/.463 for his career), Voit probably will never slug over .600 for a full season. However, that does not mean that Voit will not get on base at a high rate or still hit for power.
I would say that Voit will put together this batting line:
425 PA, .270 BA, .375 OBP, .475 SLG, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 2.0 WAR.
Admittedly, I am lowballing his raw stats because I have no idea how many games will be played next season. If this were a normal 162 game season, I would project Voit to have around 500 plate appearances, factoring in any short, 10 IL stint, rest, and splitting time at first with Andujar and Ford.
That being said, I would expect Voit to at least be more consistent overall next year, especially if he can stay healthy. Even with injuries, Voit should be able to slug higher than .368 in the second half. Expect another solid season and some more exciting home runs from Luke Voit this year.