MLB should give Yankees slugger Luke Voit what he wants -- a chance to participate in the 2019 Home Run Derby
It's refreshing to find a player like Voit demonstrating actual enthusiasm for the Home Run Derby
So he's got his wingman. As for the merits, Voit has them. Since being acquired from the Cardinals in exchange for Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos in late July of last year, Voit on the Yankees' watch has batted .288/.388/.569 (138 OPS+) with 29 home runs in 101 games. This season, he's been the rare steady presence in the injury-plagued lineup, and along the way he's landed in the 68th percentile in exit velocity, the 57th percentile in hard-hit rate, and the 90th percentile in expected slugging percentage. That is to say, he hits the ball hard and also far.
Speaking of which, here's a 470-foot Voit blast from earlier this season:
So, yeah, he very likely has the capability to drop jaws at the Derb.
On another level, it's refreshing to find a player demonstrating actual enthusiasm for the Derby. Most often it seems players have to be cajoled and nudged along by social-media campaigns into participating. Rarely do you see someone enjoy it as much as Giancarlo Stanton did during and after his 2016 triumph in San Diego (in which he hit 61 home runs):
Less than two years later, here's what Stanton had to say about participating in the Derby (via NorthJersey.com):
"Don't want to, I've done it plenty of times. Take a year off, take two years off, if I want."
Some players, irrationally or not, believe the Derby corrupts their swing. Others find it a physically exhausting endeavor that occurs during what would otherwise be a needed break from the six-month slog of the regular season. Others probably just think it's a hassle. And here we have Voit, who has power befitting a Derby participant, all but begging to be included. Maybehelps, and for a 28-year-old former 22nd-rounder like Voit who's yet to hit arbitration that's understandable. Those incentives are precisely why MLB raised the stakes, and it also hints that attracting participants may be a concern. Voit's also a former Derby champ -- at the Double-A level in 2016 -- so he's no stranger to the physical challenges native to it. (Yes, taking that many max-effort swings in quick succession is pretty taxing.)
Again and most of all, that Voit actually wants to be a part of it is a point of distinction these days, and that should be rewarded, especially since he's otherwise worthy. Put Luke Voit in the 2019 Home Run Derby, it says here.
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