Luke Voit didn’t sugarcoat what has been apparent for weeks.
He’s been in a deep slump, and it could cost him a spot on the Yankees' 25-man ALDS roster.
“It stinks because you go through it right before the postseason,” Voit said over the weekend as the Yankees finished the regular season against the Rangers.
Voit finished with respectable overall numbers, hitting .263 with 21 homers, 62 RBIs and an .842 OPS in 118 games. But that included a 1-for-33 slide to end the season, part of a second half in which the first baseman experienced prolonged difficulty.
“It's been kind of a struggle the last couple of weeks. I feel like I'm having good at-bats,” Voit said. “Sometimes the baseball gods don't work in your favor too much. I'm trying everything I can do to get back to where I was. I was feeling good after that last road trip and I kind of ran into some bad luck. I'm not trying to make excuses about that. Obviously, the results haven't been there.”
For the most part, that has been the case since Voit first suffered a sports hernia on June 29 while the Yankees were playing in London. Before the injury, Voit was hitting .280 with a .901 OPS. After returning on July 13, Voit -- who again was sidelined from July 30 to Aug. 30 because of the injury -- hit .228 with four homers, 12 RBIs and a .715 OPS in 40 games.
The 1-for-33 slump ruined what had been decent numbers even after he suffered the injury. So have there been any lingering effects from the hernia that have contributed to the slide?
“No,” the always amiable Voit said.
With the emergence of first baseman Mike Ford, who hit 11 of his 12 homers and had a .969 OPS in 38 games since Aug. 5, as well as the strong possibility that the Yankees will take 13 pitchers instead of 12, limiting the number of position players on the ALDS roster, Voit’s playoff status has been a topic for several weeks. He said he hasn’t felt pressure from that, though.
“I don't think I'm putting too much stress on me,” he said. “Obviously, I hope I make the roster, but I have no idea. There's a lot of good players in this locker room. I'm just trying to do what I can to help this team win.”
Voit did that to the surprise of just about everyone last year after arriving from the Cardinals in a little-publicized deal at the time. But he wrested the starting job from Greg Bird with his power and consistency at the plate, finishing 2018 with 14 homers in only 132 at-bats (39 games) and a 1.095 OPS. He had a two-run triple in the Yankees’ wild-card victory over the A’s and went 3-for-13 with two RBIs and four walks in the four-game ALDS loss to the Red Sox.
Declaring from the start of spring training that he was out to prove 2018 was “no fluke,” Voit did just that, performing well in the competition with Bird in the exhibition games and extending that performance into the regular season.
Before the Texas series, Aaron Boone said Voit had run into “some tough luck” that might be impacting him.
“He hit a number of balls on the screws for outs … and then all of a sudden you can press a little bit,” said Boone, who declined to speculate on Voit’s ALDS situation but did say Ford is “certainly in the conversation” for a spot. “I think he’s probably been pressing a little bit. I feel like sometimes as a hitter you can want it a little too bad instead of just trusting your work, trusting the game plan you have going into that game and understanding that he’s a really good hitter. So hopefully he’ll get some results here these last couple of days and get a little momentum going for himself.”