In retrospect, Luke Voit said, getting sent back to the minors a handful of games after the Yankees acquired him in early August was the best thing for him.
“It was nice to get sent back down to get some consistent at-bats, to feel good about myself and get my confidence up,” Voit said. “I haven’t looked back since.”
The 27-year-old Voit, an at the time under-the-radar acquisition by GM Brian Cashman before the trade deadline, has been nothing short of a marvel for the Yankees, quickly developing into a fan favorite.
After going 3-for-16 in his first stint with the club from Aug. 2-13, Voit entered Thursday night 27-for-74 (.364) with nine homers since being recalled Aug. 21. He went 4-for-4, including two homers, in Wednesday night’s 10-1 victory over the Red Sox. Voit added a home run Thursday night -- a two-run shot -- in the second inning.
“Doesn’t get any better than that, specially doing it against Boston, our biggest rival,” the 6-3, 225-pound Voit said. “Just having fun, man. Just being myself.”
The righthanded hitting Voit got a spot start at first base in place of the struggling Greg Bird Aug. 24 at Baltimore and hit two homers.
As Voit said, he hasn’t looked back, taking over, in essence, every day first-base duties that night.
“We kind of had a need and he came over here and has been a spark just from what he brings every day,” Aaron Boone said. “Obviously the great production he’s provided, it’s been huge for us. He’s played his way into a prominent role for our team. He’s earned that.”
There were few indications such production was coming July 28 when Cashman said relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos to the Cardinals in exchange for Voit and international pool money.
At the time Voit had hit .240 with five homers and 21 homers with a .739 OPS in a combined 70 games over parts of 2017 and 2018 with the Cardinals.
But Yankees’ scouts had seen something in Voit in those same years in the minors. Voit hit .337 with a .972 OPS in 2017 with Triple-A Memphis and .299 with a .891 OPS this season with Memphis.
“I give our front office a lot of credit for identifying him as someone they really felt like, maybe undervalued is not the right word, but believed that all the underlying things suggested this guy could be a really good hitter,” Boone said.
From the time he came to the Yankees, Voit, whose enthusiasm after hitting a home run has endeared him both to fans and his teammates, expressed confidence in his ability.
“I know I can hit,” Voit has said.
It was all about getting an opportunity and consistent at-bats.
“I finally got a chance,” Voit said Sept. 4 in Oakland after his eighth-inning homer snapped a 1-1 tie in an eventual 5-1 victory over the A’s.
That was not the only time one of his homers proved significant. Of his nine home runs since joining the Yankees, five have either tied the game (two of them) or given the Yankees the lead (three).
He’s not in Aaron Judge territory as a fan-favorite – no one is – but it hasn’t taken him long to acquire a following. A loud “Luuuuuuuke” chant has accompanied most of his hits at the Stadium, it particularly loud after each of his homers Wednesday.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Voit said. “One of the guys in there (the dugout) is like, ‘I’m jealous, you got a Luke chant.’ It’s unbelievable, especially rounding the bases. That’s honestly why I bring all that enthusiasm, too. The fans have my back and they want to see that. And who doesn’t like home runs? That’s why (fans) come to the park.”