New York Yankees Player Profiles: Luke Voit, will DJ LeMahieu make him expendable?

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees were happy to have Luke Voit on the 2020 team; he was the most consistent home run hitter in the lineup. He hit 22 long balls, the most homers in either league. Yes, that’s five more homers than Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Going into the 2021 season, there are several ifs attached to his name. What the Yankees do with DJ LeMahieu may be telling for Voit’s future with the Yankees.

If the Yankees move Gleyber Torres to second and manage to resign DJ LeMahieu, it could leave Voit out in the cold and a trading piece to pick up a solid starting pitcher. The Yankees will most likely put DJ at first base, leaving no place for Luke to play, the Yankees already have a full-time DH in Giancarlo Stanton. The move to first for DJ makes sense as Voit is only an average defender there. They certainly won’t move him to third because they have a Gold Glove-like defender there in Gio Urshela.

The New York Yankees have control of Voit through the end of the 2024 season and he only makes slightly less than $6 million a year. Before we go into whether the Yankees will keep Voit or not, let’s start at the beginning.

Luke Voit is a 29-year-old first baseman. Luke has had a relatively unremarkable baseball career, but how he got to the Yankees and what he has done while here, is an interesting story. Luke was born in Wildwood, Missouri, and attended Lafayette High School there. In high school, he played football as a fullback and middle linebacker. He also played baseball where he got a lot of experience. In his first three years, he played first base and third base. Interestingly in his senior year, he played catcher. Shoulder injuries while in high school ended any career he may have had in football.

Throughout his minor league career, he was always on the edge of being good. In June of 2017, the Cards promoted him to the bigs. In July of 2017, In his very first at-bat, he was plunked in the back. After 114 at-bats he hit his first home run. He ended the season with a batting average of .246 with four home runs and 18 RBI’s, still unremarkable but good enough to be used in a trade by the Cards to get players they needed.

In July of 2018, the Cards traded Luke Voit to the New York Yankees along with bonus pool money so they could get pitcher Chasen Shrive and Giovanny Gallegos. The Yanks assigned him to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yanks swiftly promoted him to the majors, in part to play first, in the absence of Greg Bird, but after batting .188 in five games they demoted him back to Scranton. After playing better in the minors and with the injury to Didi Gregorius he was again called up to the Stadium. This time something happened, he seemed to embrace the limelight and energy of New York.

Playing for Greg Bird, he soon had hit ten home runs, and after hitting .458, he was named MLB player of the week on October 1st. He ended the season hitting .333 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI’s in just 39 games. In the 2018 Wild Card game, he hit a two-run triple to help the Yankees win 7-2. That triple seemed to have given Luke a place as a Yankee favorite.

Voit didn’t escape the injury plague that hit the team in 2019. An abdominal injury right around the London series sidelined him, and continued to be problematic upon Voit’s return, and eventually required surgery once the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs. Voit was dreadful after getting hurt, but I think his performance pre-injury gets overlooked easily. Voit in 2019 was out for two stints. That injury caused him to play in only 118 games. Before his season was derailed he led the New York Yankees, he led the team in home runs and was having a better season than Miguel Torres or DJ LeMahieu. At the plate, he seldom wasted an at-bat. He doesn’t swing at bad pitches and only had one pop up in the first half of the season.

Fast forward to the bizarre 2020 baseball season.  Luke, played well in spring training and summer camp.  When the shortened season started Voit got his first hit in the last game of the Washington Nationals series, and it was a home run.  Little did the New York Yankees know at the time that that hit would start a season for Luke Voit that just might make him this year’s Yankees MVP. In the very next series against the Orioles, he would get two hits, one of them a homer that drove in four runs.  At the beginning of the season, it was assumed that Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge would have the most significant impact on the Yankees. As it turns out neither of them could stay healthy enough to stay on the field.  Voit had been healthy, and he has had his best play in his three years with the Yankees while still playing through a foot issue.  He ended the season hitting .277 with 22 home runs.

Luke Voit, during August of 2019, married his longtime sweetheart Victoria Rigman. They both attended the same school; Lafayette High School. Interestingly, Luke was on the baseball team, and Tori was a cheerleader for the school team. Luke has a younger brother John, who played defensive tackle with the Army Black Knights football team. Luke works out regularly and continues to challenge himself to be the best he can be.

Unfortunately for Luke, his future is not in his own hands. The Yankees will surely want to keep Voit’s bat in the lineup, especially with Judge and Stanton’s almost likely ability to become injured at some point in the 2021 season. If the Yankees keep Gleyber Torres at short, then placing DJ is simple at second base. This would protect Voit’s station at first base. But with so many unknowns this early in the offseason, and with so many decisions to improve the team, there is no guarantee that Voit will be in pinstripes next season.