BOSTON — Aaron Boone officially began the Luke Voit-for-American League MVP drumbeat Friday.
"We’re seeing the growth of a really good hitter that’s gone to another level and is having an MVP season," Boone said Friday before the Yankees began a three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. "Hard to believe where we’d be without Luke Voit."
The first point is debatable, if only because the topic of MVP always is.
Boone’s second point is not.
Voit has MVP-caliber numbers — an MLB-leading 20 home runs, including six in his last seven games (along with 17 RBIs). He has 47 RBIs in 51 games (47 of which he has played in), including an RBI single in the 11th inning of the Yankees' 6-5, 12-inning victory over the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park.
Voit’s .646 slugging percentage ranks first in the American League (and third in MLB behind Juan Soto’s .698 and Freddie Freeman's .658). His .984 OPS ranks him sixth in the AL (teammate DJ LeMahieu leads with 1.056).
Voit is the third Yankee to record at least 20 homers through the Yankees’ first 50 games of a season, joining Babe Ruth (1926, ’28, ’30) and Mickey Mantle (1956).
Not bad for a player who was an under-the-radar trade deadline acquisition in 2018 (the Cardinals sent the Yankees Voit and international pool money in exchange for pitchers Giovanny Gallegos and Chasen Shreve.
Said Boone, "I just think it’s a polished-up approach that has come with experience at the big league level."
Playing for home
Even with no fans, securing home-field advantage is a priority for the Yankees (30-21), who moved percentage points ahead of the Twins (31-22) for the fourth seed in the American League, which would give them home-field advantage in the wild-card round.
"We certainly want to play at home. We feel like we have a home-field advantage," Boone said. "Obviously a little bit different because of the crowd, but I think teams are built for their home ballparks in a lot of ways."
That has long been the case with the Yankees, who are 21-7 at the Stadium and 9-14 on the road. They have hit 64 of their 89 homers at home. The Twins are 21-5 at home and 10-17 on the road.