Greg Bird vs Luke Voit (Photo: NJ.com)

Yankees: Bird vs. Voit – A Spring Training Battle For The Ages

Yankee’s first basemen Greg Bird and Luke Voit are set up for one of those old fashioned skirmishes to win a job. Triple-A awaits the loser…

Yankees fans will recall Spring Training of 2017 when Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier went toe to toe in a battle for the spot in right field. The Yankees kept the drama unfolding until the final day before the team moved North, and Judge was declared the “winner,” leaving Frazier to pack his bags to make arrangements for reporting to the Yankees Triple-A team in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Clint Frazier in Spring Training
Clint Frazier in Spring Training Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

No one in the Yankees organization will ever admit to it, but the right field job was reserved for Aaron Judge, and all he needed to do was hold it. What came later solidified the Yankees thinking as Judge burst out into one of the most prolific rookie seasons ever.

Meanwhile, Clint Frazier reported for duty at Scranton, only to be subject to a series of concussions which held him back even to today when he will report to camp, medically cleared, and ready to challenge Brett Gardner for the job in left field.

The same feeling is present now and despite all the hoopla and drama present when camp opens, the Yankees, perhaps anxious to play down the drama surrounding which of the two players gets the job, have “penciled in” Luke Voit’s name in the lineup. Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, explains:

“Obviously we had a first baseman that we acquired late in the year that played really well for us. He’s currently manning that position. (Luke) Voit will have a chance to reclaim his spot or reinforce that that’s his spot. And Bird will have a chance to try to take it from him. We’ll see. There’s flexibility because they both have options. (Voit penciled in)”.Brendan Kuty, NJ.com

One thing is clear. The Yankees do not need both players on their 25-man roster. Meaning we will see a repeat of the loser in the Judge/Frazier battle having the same fate, beginning the season at Triple-A Scranton.

We’ll hear the usual “speaking points” from both Greg Bird and Luke Voit, and neither will step out of line, at least publicly. But for Greg Bird, a demotion following all of the promise – Brian Cashman once referred to Bird as “the best pure hitter in the Yankees organization” – will hit hardest.

But if we have learned anything about Greg Bird as he battled thru a succession of injuries and multiple surgeries, it’s that he scrambles himself off the mat, plunging forward and never looking back. The difference this time, though, is this struggle is more mental than physical as Bird is healthy.

The Yankees acquired Luke Voit from the Cardinals on July 29 in exchange for pitchers Giovanny Gallegos and Chasen Shreve. At the time, the Yankees acknowledged they had been scouting Voit for almost a year with the hope of snagging him from the Cardinals.

He did not disappoint, as Voit was declared by FanGraphs, “the best hitter in baseball following the July trade deadline.” No surprise there with Yankees fans who watched Luke Voit hit pitch after pitch on the nails while playing a decent, though not outstanding, first base.

As hard as it is to stop rooting for Greg Bird, he may, as they say, have met his match with Luke Voit.

Nary a pitch has been thrown to either player in a Spring Training contest. And if we know anything about baseball as it’s played at this level, production always wins. There are no favorites, only numbers posted and counted…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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One comment

  1. It may also be that a few years of disrupted playing time and several operations have left Bird a weaker player. The margin between major league talents is razor thin. I’m still rooting for him by virtue of having followed him longer, but it’s hard not to assume Voit will come out on top in Spring Training.

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