It took a bird flying the coop to get where we are. Of course, depending on your interpretation of Luke Voit‘s rise, that bird can be one of two things. The first is Brian Cashman trading for Voit in 2018 – a guy who had been sent down to AA a few a months earlier by the Cardinals organization – for Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos.
The other bird is an actual guy named Greg Bird who used to play first base. He now runs a fashion company with Jacoby Ellsbury and Yoenis Cespedes. They sell their clothes on Etsy.
This is the 4th straight day Ellsbury, Cespedes and Bird didn’t show up to their own job.
Here we are just a year later and Voit is the talk of the town. He’s mashing balls in key situations, and has amassed such an impressive resume of shots which have left the stratosphere that now, the young man who never had a chance with those red birds of the National League will probably be an All-Star. He has the potential to showcase his talents in the home run derby as well.
I guess now it’s just a matter of debate of whether Voit should do it. On one hand, by baseball standards, he’s an older player who finally reached his potential in the major leagues at 28-years-old. With the Home Run Derby’s purse being a cool $1 million, can you blame him for wanting to show up?
We saw this off-season how hard it was for guys like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to get paid. They were 26-years-old. When is Voit really ever going to get the chance to make anything close to what he’s valued? In arbitration? That won’t be until 2021 for him.
Ask Dellin Betances how ruthless arbitration hearings are, and he has had a great career except for a small slump. For sure, age will be used against him in order to keep him from making money, and it is so unfortunate that he has no control over this.
On the other end of the spectrum, sending a great bat in Voit to the home run derby is a risk for the Yankees. In New York we’ve had two instances where a player either got hurt or his power fell off dramatically. The first guy I’d like to mention played down the road from the Bronx in Queens. In 2006, a potential MVP year fell by the wayside for David Wright after participating in the home run derby.
His second half wasn’t bad that year but there was a significant drop off in power for him. To start 2006 Wright hit: 20 HR, 74 RBI, .316 AVG, .386 OBP, .575 SLG, .961 OPS.
In his second half, Wright was still making contact but his power numbers dropped dramatically. He hit: 6 HR, 42 RBI, .305 AVG, .375 OBP, .469 SLG, .844 OPS
Still a great half but he saw a full .100+ slugging percentage regression. Obviously SOMETHING happened there.
Something more close to home was of course Aaron Judge in 2017. That home run derby was Judge’s breakout party. Within a month Judge’s bombs introduced a whole new section to Yankee Stadium in the Judge’s Chambers. For a team with a lavish history of mashers, Judge was – and still is – an incredible force to have taken this city as quickly as he did.
This was him pre-Derby that year: 30 HR, 66 RBI, .329 AVG, .448 OBP, .691 SLG, .1.139 OPS
Post Home Run Derby Judge had a dreadful 44 game stretch. Here is what he did from July 14 to August 31st: 7 HR, 16 RBI, .179 AVG, .346 OBP, .344 SLG, .690 OPS
Spoiler Alert: He came back to life again in September again: 15 HR, 32 RBI, .311 AVG, .463 OBP, .889 SLG, 1.352 OPS
As it turns out, there was a reason for that 44 game slump. According to Newsday, Judge was hurt:
“It affected me because I hurt my shoulder,” Judge told the Long Island paper. “But my swing-wise, no. I was just taking BP.”
On a personal note, I say Luke Voit should do the Derby. Yes we’ve seen evidence saying it can hurt your season but there comes a point where, a guy like Voit who won’t come up for free agency until he’s well into his 30’s, should think about himself and his family. Who knows what an arbitration hearing would look like for a guy like him, too. In baseball years, 2021 can feel like a century.
At this point Luke Voit should be like Ol’ Dirty Bastard and get his money. (Don’t you worry.)
Plus it isn’t like he’ll be the only guy on the team who’ll be slugging dingers. If he hits a momentary slump the way Judge did in 2017 or looks a little tired but still makes contact like Wright in 2006, I mean, look at the killers on this team. It’s a lineup with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Aaron Hicks and DJ LeMahieu. These guys got this until he recuperates himself.
Hell, maybe Judge can pick him up and way Voit has done this year and he did last year: Voit while Judge has been out in 2018 and 2019: 19 HR, 46 RBI, .281 AVG