There was always the chance because we’ve seen it before, that Luke Voit was a flash in the pan late-season arrival to the Yankees. We know better now…
Luke Voit, through five full seasons playing every level of minor league baseball, has always been surrounded by questions about his ability. Even after joining the Yankees late last season with a jolt, hitting 14 home runs with 33 RBI in only 40 games, the questions persisted during the offseason, especially when the Yankees declared Voit to be in a one-on-one battle with Greg Bird for the job at first base.
The questions were fair though, especially to Yankees fans who have seen more than their share of overnight sensations bursting onto the scene, only to fade into the far distance a short time later.
You name them…Shane Spencer, who came up to the Yankees in 1998 and proceeded to smack 10 home runs in the month of September, in only 67 at-bats. Of those 10 homers, three of them came with the bases loaded.
Kevin Maas…remember him? He crushed 10 homers in just 77 at-bats as a Yankee, and finished his first season with 24 homers, playing in only 79 games in 1991. Four years later, Maas was cut by the Minnesota Twins after 22 games, never to be heard or seen thereafter.
Cut to Aaron Small, a journeyman 34-year-old pitcher, who made his first start on July 20, 2005, beating the Texas Rangers. Small would go on to win 10 games in 2005 – without ever losing.
In fact, he became the first Yankee to win his first nine decisions since Tommy John (1979) and just the fourth player in MLB history to win 10 games without recording a loss. Two years later, Small retired after being released by the Seattle Mariners.
Et cetera. Here we are, through with the first month of the season in the books, and Luke Voit is not only continuing to hit at a torrid pace, but he’s also even bettering the numbers he put up last year. In roughly 100 at-bats, Voit has already produced eight home runs and 25 RBI for the injury-plagued Yankees. Project that out over the next five months and Voit will end the season with 48 homers and 125 RBI.
Remember too, that much-hyped battle between Luke Voit and Greg Bird in Spring Training over the first base job? That’s gone too, even if Bird were healthy, which once again proves to be a dream. In fact, Voit’s production this season should if truth manifests itself with Yankee’s brass, dictate a Mets-like cutting of the ties to Travis d’Arnaud action with Bird, even though it means eating the remaining portion of Bird’s $1.2 salary for this year.
Luke Voit has never lacked confidence in himself, no matter where he’s played. Check that, the Yankees had confidence in him as they scouted him as a player in the minors and his brief time with the St. Louis Cardinals. All Voit was looking for was a chance…
Just sticking to it – I always knew I could hit… A baseball story that always endears the heart. Replacing Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the Yankees lineup is a non-starter. But together with Gary Sanchez and the two gargantuan home runs he’s hit since his return, Luke Voit is on a steady path to creating his own legacy in the Yankees lore, and the owner of the first base position for the next decade.
No one can say where the Yankees would be today without Luke Voit. What we can say, though, is that Voit has found a home (finally) in the major leagues, where he is proving to himself and everyone that what he said is true – tenfold – “I always knew I could hit”…
Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball (Thank You For Sharing)
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