The late-round pick has shattered expectations in the minors this season with a .327/.407/.565 line over 307 plate appearances in Memphis this year. However, he has only managed a .245 average for the St. Louis Cardinals thus far and consistently sits behind Jose Martinez, who will reportedly workout at first base over the summer.
Admittedly, it has been an up and down year for Luke Voit, with more downs than ups, but the brief flashes we did see of him were rather enticing. Voit has natural power and reach at the plate to fill the prototypical power role first basemen fill. He also showed flashes of excellent fielding on several diving plays, something the St. Louis Cardinals lack at times.
While it was admittedly unrealistic to expect him to continue a .298 pace through his first fifty-one plate appearances, Voit came back down to earth. Voit has hit just .200 over his last sixty plate appearances, a concerning sign. However, part of the blame lies on Matheny’s unwillingness to try and coach Voit through a tough spell. As soon as Voit’s bat disappeared, so did Matheny’s faith in him.
Following his solid start, Voit hit a cold streak over the next four games, then was relegated to a pinch hitter role for twenty of his next twenty-six appearances. Like I discussed in an earlier article about Randal Grichuk, developing a rhythm and getting consistent time is more important to success in baseball than every other sport. Voit being robbed of that rhythm as soon as he hits a cold streak is part of the reason he declined so rapidly.
So where does he go now? I think he is wasting time atrophying on the bench, yet he doesn’t have much less to prove in the minors, considering his sustained success at the AAA level. I do think Voit should get more opportunities despite his struggles, and Martinez should get more time in the outfield where he is more naturally inclined to play.
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The team has shown that it is willing to unload contracts in trades for the future as they did with Mike Leake, so attempting this with either Piscotty or Fowler may be a necessary move.
That all depends on the organization’s view of Voit, of course. As a late round pick, it is possible management doesn’t see that much in Voit despite him excelling in the minors, resulting in management not caring too much about Voit’s development and prioritizing immediate team success and older, more cemented players over him.
They could also want him to become comfortable in a pinch-hitting role, but I feel that is a waste of his above average fielding potential.
It is really hard to imagine exactly what the organization is planning with Voit based on the way he has been handled in the majors this season, but we have seen that he has the talent to play with success in the minors this season and early in his major league career. He is still twenty-six, giving him a year or two to finishing filling out his development, but management has to give him the game reps in order to do that.
A tale of two halves, the case of Luke Voit has been a very interesting one to witness. Whether or not it pans out the Cardinals way has yet to be seen. As a fan, I see the potential for a solid player that perfectly fills the needs of the current Cardinals, so I really hope he does.