SEATTLE — Suddenly, there are signs of the Luke Voit of 2021 starting to resemble the Luke Voit of 2020.
The Yankees, desperate for any kind of offensive spark, could not be happier.
Voit, who started the season on the injured list because of a torn meniscus in his left knee and then went back to the IL not too long after returning because of a right oblique strain, has struggled finding any kind of consistency at the plate, par for the course for much of the roster so far this season.
But the first baseman, who led all of the Majors in homers with 22 during the 60-game COVID-shortened season last year, set a career high with five hits in Tuesday night’s 12-1 victory over the Mariners.
It was something Voit, now hitting .237 with three homers and a .683 OPS this season, didn’t necessarily see coming. Not after going 3-for-22 during last week’s homestand against the Angels and Mets.
"Obviously, last week was a pretty frustrating week," Voit said. "I think I had as many hits [tonight] as I had in the last 10 games."
In his previous 10 games going into Tuesday, the righty-swinging Voit was in a 7-for-39 (.179) slide, a stretch including one homer.
"I've always been a great opposite-field hitter and I just was getting really pull happy and coming out and rolling balls over," said Voit, whose power numbers and fly ball rate have dipped significantly this year. "So [Tuesday night] it was really good, and I felt healthy and [want to] keep it rolling."
Of Voit’s five hits Tuesday, three went opposite field, including an eighth-inning double that landed near the base of the wall in right-center.
"He’s huge for us," Aaron Boone said of what a resurgent Voit could do for a lineup that has mostly underperformed in 2021. "Just adding the length [to the lineup], the tough at-bats he brings . . . he did a good job using the [whole] field tonight. He hasn’t used rightfield a lot here in the last week or so. Right away [on the first-inning single], he goes the other way, hits the double off the fence that way, so good to see him using the whole field. It’s a little bit cliché, but when guys have the ability to use the whole field, especially when you have the kind of power Luke does, that’s usually a good thing."
While it’s far too soon to declare Voit completely locked in, the 30-year-old said, regardless of how he’s going, he almost always strides to the plate with confidence.
Or tries to.
"Baseball’s already hard enough," Voit said. "It’s really easy to get down on yourself. I just get frustrated. I felt [last week] like I was almost 0-2 when I walked up the plate sometimes. You just have to get out of it. I know I can hit the ball to all fields and use the whole field. I’m not just a power hitter, I need to take my hits. I think I was trying to do too much. I was pulling off of balls. Just need to get back to, obviously, what I did last year."
And, he hopes, help rally the Yankees, just two games over .500 entering Wednesday night and currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the AL playoffs, into the postseason.
"This team has what it takes," Voit said. "Obviously, the division is still pretty far [9 ½ behind Boston coming into the day] but there’s still 79 games left to play . . . we need to come out firing again."