Luke Voit, the Yankees first baseman with the perfect name for a big slugger, did it again on Tuesday night, picking up his second multi-HR game in five days as he moved into sole possession of the Major League lead for dingers with 18.
On a night when the Yankees won 20-6 to extend their winning streak to six games, it’s hard to make the argument that Voit’s five RBI were particularly meaningful to his team’s victory. But his first dinger, specifically, was the kind you love to see from the heaviest dude in your batting order (though he did lose weight in quarantine). Facing Taijuan Walker with runners on the corners, Voit got a hold of a meatball right down the middle and banished it to the bleachers, where it took a tremendously pleasing bounce all the way up the steps.
His second one, coming in the sixth, wasn’t quite as awe-inspiring, since the ball just barely made it out, but it was enough to put more distance between himself and Mike Trout and Nelson Cruz on the dong leaderboard. And besides, even if Voit weren’t mashing at a Maris-level pace (quite literally—his pace works out to 60.75 taters over a 162-game season), any homers this man can hit right now qualify as impressive, given the foot issues he’s been dealing with. Those problems garnered plenty of concern after Voit knocked his 15th of the year on Friday. Look at the pain he was in as he rounded third.
But according to his manager, Voit’s been relatively fine enough to play nearly every day for the Yanks.
Voit, too, sounds determined to do everything he can to help the 27-21 Yankees improve their playoff positioning.
“I’ve got to be out here with the boys, and I’ll do everything to grind through it and do everything I can to help us win,” he said on Friday. ““It’s a little minor foot problem. It has good days and bad days … These doubleheaders put a little bit more wear and tear on it, but it’ll feel better.”
As the inconsistent and injury-addled Yankees have limped through the season, it’s the 29-year-old Voit who’s emerged as the big bat with Stanton and Judge sidelined. His power in the two-hole, combined with the more ground-ball oriented DJ LeMahieu’s .363 average in the lead-off spot, makes the Yankees offense difficult for any pitcher to suppress.
Voit’s hitting has been so prodigious that, even in just 44 games, it arguably surpasses 2019, his only other mostly full season in the majors, when an abdominal injury hampered his efforts and left him with 21 dingers in 118 games and an OPS of .842, or 135 points lower than it is now.
Here’s another big homer Voit hit last month, just because:
Though not an especially experienced player, Voit’s leadership has also been pushed to the forefront in this messy season. After the Yanks erased a hot start by losing 15 out of 20 games, culminating in a loss to the Blue Jays on Sept. 8, it was Voit who had the harshest quote afterwards.
“I almost feel like it’s embarrassing for us right now,” Voit said. “I feel like teams aren’t really scared of us right now and it’s kind of a sad thing because we’re the New York Yankees. We’ve just been playing like crap.”
The Yankees have not lost since.