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Luke Voit breaks slump, Yankees need him to start hitting again

In game two of the Yankees double header on Wednesday, Luke Voit finally broke out of his terrible slump with three hits and two big RBIs. Before his double off the left-center field wall, Voit was 3-for-40 over his previous 50 plate appearances and suffering through an 0-for-22 dry spell. As the cliche goes, he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.

During his slump, Voit’s batting average dropped 55-points, his on-base percentage 38-points, and his slugging 68-points. His OPS went from an MVP-contending .915 to a more human .809 (league average is .736). A player going through a 50 PA slump is nothing new. But because Voit had been Hulk-like since the Yankees stole him from St. Louis last summer, doubting fans took the opportunity to wonder if this was the end of King Louis’ reign in New York.

It wasn’t.

The Yankees, who don’t believe in “hot” or “cold,” continued to show trust in Voit by penciling his name into the lineup every day. I assumed he’d get the night game off after an O-fer with two whiffs in part one of the double dip, but the Yankees’ trust in Voit paid off Wednesday night.

As it turns out, the Baltimore pitching staff (if you can even call it that) is just what Voit needed. In 80 career games with the Yanks, Voit has smashed 24 dingers and driven in 65 runs. Six of those long balls and 20 of those RBIs have come versus Orioles pitchers, who Voit essentially treats as batting practice any time he’s in need of an ego boost.

The Yankees Need Voit

Here, I’ll save you the duh.

With Stanton’s status uncertain and Judge far from returning, Voit’s power and on-base ability is essential. Sanchez has slugged 6 home runs in 15 games since returning from the IL and Gleyber has been on fire since the calendar turned to May, hitting .341 with 6 extra base hits. Voit’s ability to get on base in front of those guys is key to the Yankees scoring runs.

With Hicks back the lineup is longer. I’ll be curious to see how they construct it when they aren’t playing a double header. If Monday’s rain out is any indication, we might see Hicks lead off against right handed pitchers. Here was the posted lineup from Monday, in which the Yankees were facing the righty David Hess.

LeMahieu, who had been leading off for the Yankees, was getting the day off. When both he and Hicks are playing, I’m assuming Boone will swap them depending on if they’re facing a righty or lefty. Here is my guess for the lineup construction.

v RHP:

Hicks – CF
Voit – 1B
Sanchez – C
Torres – SS
LeMahieu – 3B
Morales – DH
Frazier – RF
Urshela – 3B
Gardner – LF

v LHP:

LeMahieu – 2B
Voit – 1B
Hicks – CF
Sanchez – C
Torres – SS
Morales – DH
Frazier – LF
Urshela – 3B
Maybin – RF

You might also see Romine catching and Sanchez DH-ing on certain days, or Hicks shifting to DH to make sure his back doesn’t act up and Maybin filling in an outfield spot.

In both lineups, Voit is batting in the Judge slot. I think the Yankees will keep him there because they believe in that type of hitter batting second. Traditionally — or should I say, historically — you might see Gleyber or LeMahieu hitting second. But the tunnel dwellers want an on-base machine in that slot and that is what Voit has been for the Yanks. Even with his slump Voit has a .363 OPB, third among active Yankees (Urshela and DJLM are ahead of him. Judge — who else? — is leading the team with a .404 OBP).

One three-hit game doesn’t necessarily mean Voit has snapped out of his funk, but the Yankees better hope it does.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @Andrew_Rotondi.

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