With the Yankees two young and hungry first basemen battling it out this spring, who will win the job, Luke Voit or Greg Bird?
Luke Voit took the world by storm last year with an impressive September. When he was traded to the Yankees on July 28 for LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP Giovanny Gallegos, the explosion of Voit caught everyone including the Yankees by surprise. First base was a weakness for the Yankees all year and by the time October shifted into focus, the legend of Luke Voit was shaping into form.
In 39 appearances, Voit mashed his way to a 14 HR and 33 RBI onslaught of opposing pitchers. His slash line of .333/.405/.689 was an enormous upgrade to the position. By virtue, he was the de-facto starter for the postseason run that fell just short. His postseason numbers did not replicate his regular season numbers; he was constantly battling tough pitching assignments. Drawing four BB in 21 PA was encouraging and his OBP of .381 was a major plus.
New York will chew you up and spit you out if you don’t perform and it doesn’t matter who you are (Giancarlo Stanton). Greg Bird was at the brunt of the boos with his lackluster performance. His slash of .199/.286/.386 could not have come at a worse time. Being one of the few lefty bats in the lineup, he failed to provide the consistent power and stout defense we were able to get a glimpse of in 2015.
It has always been about potential with Bird, and as we near his fourth major league season there is still a chance he rediscovers the hitting prowess he was highly regarded for in the minors. The injury bug has caught up to bird as well. His right shoulder surgery in 2016 caused him to miss the whole season and the mysterious right ankle injury that has caused him to miss most of 2017 only cracking the lineup in late August. Again in 2018, the same right ankle that caused Bird to miss most of the 2017 campaign was injured and required surgery. Unfortunately for Bird, he was only able to play half the season and was never in a rhythm.
Both players are having monster springs. It seems to be a common trend for Bird as his springs have resulted in great optimism for the regular seasons. Out of his six hits, four have gone for XBH and his .462 average is stellar.
Voit emphasized defense this offseason and he has made the necessary strides to have all of the opportunities in the world to win this job. The burly right-hander has also enjoyed a great deal of success this spring with two home runs in 13 AB and with an OPS of 1.126.
With a possibility of the opening day lineup trotting out 8 righties and one switch hitter, the obvious choice seems to anoint the job to Greg Bird. But what about the short porch?! The short porch! Cashman and Boone have not shown any signs of displeasure with having a heavy right-handed lineup. Going into spring it was Voit’s job to lose.
Greg Bird will put up a tremendous fight and say all of the right things, but Luke Voit emerged from the depths of the Cardinals minor league system and was brought on this Earth to mash baseballs for the Bronx Bombers. Luke Voit will reign victorious and prove to not be a one-hit-wonder.