St. Louis Cardinals: Voit showing he’s not a F-Luke

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 28: Luke Voit #45 of the New York Yankees is hit by a pitch during the fifth inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on March 28, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 28: Luke Voit #45 of the New York Yankees is hit by a pitch during the fifth inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on March 28, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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Hometown kid Luke Voit was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals at the August trade deadline last year after only 11 at-bats in 2018 for Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. It just didn’t seem like he was going to have a role on the Cardinals, so the team opted to send him to New York.

Luke Voit quickly became a sensation for the playoff-bound New York Yankees, garnering AL player-of-the week honors in the final week of the season and slashing a scorching .333/.405/.689 in 30 games to finish 2018. He has turned in an impressive first month of 2019 and shows no signs of falling back to earth: it’s starting to seem like the St. Louis Cardinals got fleeced.

But was it reasonable to see this coming? The St. Louis Cardinals didn’t see many signs of this in his tenure, as Voit slashed just .240/.307/.432 over his Redbird career. You could argue that even though Voit was young and the return has been underwhelming, that it could have ended up being a small loss for a small gain.

Fangraphs summed up the situation for Louis Linwood Voit heading in to 2019. It was like he had nowhere to go but down:

That prediction hasn’t quite come to pass. Although Voit has had some so-so games in 2019, even some mini-slumps for a power hitter, he has reached base safely in 39 straight games. This puts him in the following elite Yankee company (post-1960): Derek Jeter (57 games), Alex Rodriguez (53), Mark Teixeira (42), Bernie Williams (42), Paul O’Neill (42), Don Mattingly (42), Jeter (41), and Roy White (41).

You can’t create runs unless you get on base. It is that simple. And even with a doldrum here or there in 2019, he has still managed to put up All-Star game selection caliber numbers:

  • second in the AL in RBI with 25
  • .286 BA with a .935 OPS (tops on the Yankees, ten points higher than Aaron Judge).
  • Seventh in the league in Offensive Runs Above Average (behind only Trey Mancini of the last-place Orioles in the Eastern Division).

And most importantly, Voit is hitting a career best OPS+ of 145, proving that last year was no fluke. And although Voit may yet go “down”, he has proved to the Cardinals and to the entire MLB that he is in the big leagues to stay.

The Cardinals Logjam

St. Louis Cardinals
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 22: Carson Kelly #30 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates with Juan Nicasio #12 and Luke Voit #40 after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 22, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Of course, there was no room for him at first base in a Cardinal uniform. Because Matt Carpenter. Not even a bench role was a thought with younger guys and an outfield jam, so he was traded. It turned out to be just the opportunity Voit was looking for, as the presence of the designated hitter in the AL helped Voit get the at-bats he was lacking.

Voit has played exactly half of his games at first base and half as designated hitter in 2019. And although no one is going to compare him to Paul Goldschmidt with the leather, he has committed only two errors, leading to a .982 fielding percentage, against a range factor which is basically at the league average (8.01 vs. 7.92).

In fact, a Yanks Go Yard analysis yesterday opines that Luke Voit’s competent fielding this year “should cement his claim as the everyday first baseman for the New York Yankees. Anything but — would be unacceptable.”

By the way, the “Carpenter must play first!” meme was created to protect…who again at third base? (2018 was so long ago, it is hard to remember.) The non-Carpenter starters at 3B in 2018 were Jedd Gyorko (71 games), Yairo Munoz (6), Patrick Wisdom (6), and Greg Garcia (5).

Meanwhile, over at first base, Matt Adams was brought back eight days before Luke was traded. And to add insult to injury, they even moved Patrick Wisdom across the diamond, and he got in more innings at the first sack in his lone month with the team than Luke got all year.

Getting a clearer picture of why Voit was blocked? I’ll spell it out.

Luke was able to get only 11 ABs so that we could facilitate starts of three guys who would be shipped at season’s end, one who would not make the opening day roster in 2019, and one currently hitting .143 with no HRs.

Another reason was to facilitate the most ill-fated experiment in St. Louis Cardinals history: thinking it was a good idea to convert Jose Martinez, 11 years a shaky pro outfielder, into a shaky first baseman where he would be smack-dab in the middle of ten times more plays.

Not exactly putting your players in the best positions to succeed, but what’s done is done.

Winning over a Tough Crowd

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 26: Luke Voit #45 of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout after being tagged out at third during the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on April 26, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 26: Luke Voit #45 of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout after being tagged out at third during the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on April 26, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

But I digress. Back to Luke. The accolades for Voit in New York have been rolling in like a smash Broadway musical. It started from day one of the season.

Luke Voit’s Blast Makes Yankees’ Opener a Breeze” and “Yankees Opening Day starts perfectly with Luke Voit no-doubter” blared the New York Times and New York Post headlines, respectively (March 28).

“He’s such an important player for us, he’s become a premium hitter,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told the Associated Press. “I don’t think any of us are surprised. I think a lot of people were wondering after last year, could he come and do this? But this is the kind of hitter we see him as, as a guy who has the ability to get on base and hit the ball out of the ballpark, and he’s been doing that since he got here.”

“In a season that has been defined by injuries and uncertainty, one player has constantly impressed throughout: Luke Voit.” ~ Brent Guiao, bronxpinstripes.com (“Voit stars in yet another Yankee victory” April 27).

“Voit is clearly this club’s starting first baseman from here on out” ~ Ricky Delgado, RotoBaller.com (“Luke Voit stays red-hot as Yanks prevail“, April 27.

“Let Luke Voit mash. You just slash.” ~ Karen Veenstra, Featured Column, bronxpinstripes.com
(“Could all these injuries be a good thing for the Yankees?”, April 27).

“Voit and Urshela have quelled the absence of their superstars and kept them competitive.” ~ Emily Iannaconi, elitesportsny.com (“No Judge? No Stanton? No Sanchez? No problem“, April 26)

“It’s Luke Voit‘s team now.” ~ Yankee.Blue (“Voit Vaults Yanks to ‘Easy’ Win“, April 24)

Luke Voit is Carrying the Yankees. You Can Thank the Front Office.” (April 27)

So here is Voit’s first month of 2019:

Standard Batting
YearGPAABRH2BHRRBIBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSOPS+
201928126106213038251731.283.397.538.935145
Player Value–Batting
YearGPARbatRfieldRAAWAARrepRARWARwaaWL%162WL%oWARoRAR
2019281267-230.3470.8.510.5020.99

Clearly, Voit has learned from whatever success he had last year and is building upon it. While it may seem like the Cardinals traded a quality talent for not much in return, let’s be happy that a former Cardinals is flourishing in a time he may not have been given in St. Louis.

The St. Louis Cardinals are doing great right now, sitting atop their division. No worries. But let’s also pause to salute our player development guys for finding and grooming a player of Voit’s caliber, and learn the lesson of allowing roster vagaries to cause us to give up on a player too soon.

Next. Ranking the 10 worst trades in the last 20 years. dark

And if you see Luke around St. Louis next winter, offer to buy him Imo’s, to say “Sorry”. I know he will appreciate it. That is one thing he can’t get in New York.

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