To Keep or Not to Keep: Luke Voit
by Ethan Semendinger
July 19th, 2021
Over the next month as we begin to approach the 2021 Trade Deadline season, Ethan will be taking you through most of the Yankees MLB talent (including those on the IL) and his give opinions on what he would do if he ran the team and on what the Yankees will likely do.
Today we’ll be discussing Luke Voit.
MLB Postseason/Division/WS Odds for the New York Yankees (2021): Preseason: Fangraphs – 91.3%/71.0%/17.5% BBRef – 84.0%/63.1%/11.8% 538 – 83%/60%/14% On June 14th: Fangraphs – 44.5%/14.4%/5.7% BBRef – 19.3%/0.9%/0.8% 538 – 37%/8%/3%#Yankees #StartSpreadingtheNews — Start Spreading The News (@NYY_Report) June 14, 2021
Understanding This Series:
At the beginning of this series, the Yankees currently sit with a 33-32 record, are 4th in the AL East (8.5 GB of the Rays), and are 6th in the AL Wild Card race (4 GB of the Astros). If they want to win 93 games this season (what they’d likely need for a wild card spot) they’ll have to play .618 baseball, a winning percentage of which just 2 teams (Rays and White Sox) are currently playing at. In this series we’re not believing that the Yankees, under their current roster construction and self-inflicted restrictions, have a shot at the playoffs. Thus, we’re looking at the 2021 Trade Deadline as a place to sell and to look towards 2022 and the future for this team.
Luke Voit Background:
The Yankees, while attempting to get through the failing Greg Bird experiment, needed to find a first baseman as the team was rolling towards a top record in the AL and an easy postseason spot. This brought them to trading Giovanny Gallegos and Chasen Shreve to the St. Louis Cardinals for Luke Voit.
This deal was fantastic. The Cardinals got a reliever who has been tops in their bullpen and who has become their closer. The Yankees got a player who immediately produced at the MLB level and hit above a 1.000 OPS in 2018 as the Yankees needed life from first base.
But now the Greg Bird experiment has also started to become the Luke Voit experiment.
Now, we have to give credit to Luke Voit. In 2020 he did lead the MLB in Home Runs (22) and produced very well for the Yankees. As he also did for them in 2019 until after he got hurt during the London Series.
However, since then, Luke Voit has found his way to the IL on 5 different times, of which includes 3 trips in 2021. This has limited him to just 29 games in 2021 as he’s dealt with problems to his oblique (twice) and knee (bone bruise). In my non-yet-professional opinion, it is hard to stay positive about a guy coming back this season after twice going down with oblique problems. Especially when other issues also arise from it.
However, to look at his career in pinstripes (since 2018) should inspire Yankees fans:
A combined .274/.367/.510 (.888 OPS) triple-slash with 60 HR’s and a 138 OPS+ over 242 games is very good production. Yet, just 242 games over 3 seasons (we’ll give him half for 2018 and 2020) is not great.
What I’d Do and What the Yankees Will Do:
Personally, I’m done with Luke Voit. I’m done with the analytics that “tell me” he’s a good player. I’m done with the Yankees continuously adding this exact player type. There are so many things that the era with Luke Voit could’ve been, and yet this and those teams continually missed.
Now, I’m not blaming that at all on Luke Voit. He’s been an above-average first baseman during his Yankee career and as a Super-Two player (or someone 4 years of total arbitration) playing in his first arbitration year this year, he has lots of control left for a team that is looking for help.
And while that seems like a perfect reason for the Yankees to keep him, Voit may be the perfect type of player to be selling with. His move would allow the Yankees to have a place for a left-handed bat at first base. His move could allow DJ LeMahieu to move to first base (and Gleyber to second, and bringing in a true shortstop). A move of Luke Voit could net back solid prospects that will help this team for the future.
The Yankees should capitalize on the value of their power-hitting, right-handed-hitting, strikeout-prone, and decently injury-prone player. If they don’t do this now I sense this is only something that will get worse with time.
Lots of teams that are truly competitive this year can use the help at first base. This includes the Rays (0.695 OPS), Red Sox (0.639), and Brewers (0.675).
In the wise words of both David Gray and the Barenaked Ladies:
SELL SELL SELL!