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Luke Voit – Deep Diving into His 2020 Breakout Season

What a season by Luke Voit with a career-high home run total, while also on pace for career bests in runs and RBI. In the Staff Roundtable series on Breakout Hitters We Trust in 2021, I picked Luke Voit. He came into the 2020 season with the best shape of his life narrative. When a player improves their body composition, and it aligns with fantasy production, then we take notice. Even before Luke Voit’s 2020 season, he dominated in the first half of 2019. As always, we dive into his surface stats and underlying metrics to determine what to expect moving forward in 2021.

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The Luke Voit Breakout

Up & Down 2019 Season

In Luke Voit’s up and down 2019 season, he totaled 21 home runs, 72 runs, and 62 RBI. Voit finished with a triple slash of .263/.378/.464 with a 13.9% walk rate and a 27.8% strikeout rate. In the first half or so of 2019, from March to the end of July, Voit hit 19 home runs, 60 runs, and 54 RBI. During that stretch, he slashed .278/.392/.493 with a 13.9% walk rate and a 27.4% strikeout rate. Voit then returned from his hernia in late August and hit two home runs, scored 12 runs, with eight RBI and a triple slash of .200/.319/.338. Granted that his post-injury production came in a smaller sample, but the hernia injury likely negatively impacted him.

Dominant 2020 Season

Cue up the best shape of his life narrative, and Luke Voit crushed in 2020 with 22 home runs, 41 runs, and 52 RBI. His 2020 production came in 46% of the plate appearances he totaled in 2019. If we pace out his counting stats over a similar amount of plate appearances in 2019, Voit would’ve finished with 49 home runs, 92 runs, and 117 RBI. When looking at the top hitters in 2019, those counting stats would rank similar to other top-30 hitters. Hopefully, in a full 2021 season, we see Luke Voit log an entire season’s worth of plate appearances and continue his 2020 dominance.

Batted Ball Profile

Over his career, Luke Voit typically displayed a quality line drive rate with a relatively similar ground ball and fly-ball rate. However, in 2020, his batted ball profile changed. He had a 20% line drive rate, 40.6% ground ball rate, and 39.4% fly-ball rate. In comparison to his career rates, Voit has a career 23.6% line drive rate, 40.6% ground ball rate, and 39.4% fly-ball rate. Even Voit’s 54.4% pull rate varied from his 47.5% career pull rate. Overall, it makes sense to see an increased fly-ball rate and pull rate that translated into more power and a 34.9% HR/FB rate that ranked 3rd amongst all hitters in 2020.

Plate Discipline

Luke Voit’s plate discipline metrics look interesting when comparing his 2020 and career plate discipline stats. Voit increased his swing and contact rates across the board from 2019 and his career rates. Interestingly, with the increased swing and contact rates, Luke Voit finished with higher first-pitch strike and swinging-strike rates. The strikeout and walk rates dropped for Voit, but he typically displayed a high walk rate and consistently high OBP skills. Overall, in 2020, it appeared that Luke Voit took a slightly more aggressive approach, which potentially led to the breakout season. The table below shows 2019, 2020, and his career plate discipline metrics.

Luke Voit
Luke Voit Plate Discipline

Statcast Data

Interestingly, Luke Voit’s Statcast data doesn’t jump off the page with the home run spike in 2020. However, on a positive note, they finished similarly to his 2019 season in terms of barrel rate, average exit velocity, and hard-hit rate. In 2020, Luke Voit ended with a 13.1% barrel rate (86th percentile), 88.9 mph average exit velocity (52nd percentile), and 40% hard-hit rate (52nd percentile). Meanwhile, in 2019, Voit finished with a 13.2% barrel rate (91st percentile), 89.7 mph average exit velocity (60th percentile), and 41.5% hard-hit rate (64th percentile). Even when we consider his average exit velocity on FB/LD, Voit finished with almost identical numbers with 95.4 mph in 2019 and 95.9 mph in 2020. The table below shows his Statcast data in 2019 and 2020.

Luke Voit
Luke Voit Statcast Data 2019-2020

As expected, Luke Voit’s expected stats ranked off the charts in 2020 when comparing his 2019 season. Voit finished with a .284 xBA (82nd percentile), .593 xSLG (96th percentile), and .374 xwOBA (92nd percentile), all of which backed up his breakout 2020 season. Even in 2019, his .496 xSLG (74th percentile) and .367 xwOBA (81st percentile) ranked decently in terms of percentile. With the Statcast data remaining similar to 2019, that gives us reasons for optimism that it’s not entirely different.

Pitch Results

When looking at pitch results for Luke Voit, he crushed fastballs once again. In 2020, against fastballs, he hit 16 of his 20 home runs with a .329 xBA, .759 xSLG, and .451 xwOBA with a 19.1% whiff rate. However, in 2019, Voit hit nine of his 22 home runs against fastballs with a .279 xBA, .543 xSLG, and .400 xwOBA, and a 25.7% whiff rate. Across the board, he either matched or improved against all pitches and lowered his whiff rates. Seeing the lowered whiff rates could indicate a more aggressive approach, which we also noticed in the plate discipline metrics.

Luke Voit’s 2021 Outlook

On the Razzball Player Rater, Voit finished as the 9th overall hitter between Manny Machado and Trevor Story. He also finished as the 9th overall hitter on Fantrax sandwiched in between Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna. When looking at the 2020 ADP, Voit had a 185 ADP on NFBC and a 173 ADP on Fantrax. According to the 2Early Mocks, Voit has a 46.4 ADP near Brandon Woodruff and Tyler Glasnow. With the breakout 2020 season, it’s no surprise to see Voit’s ADP skyrocket.

One concern towards the end of the 2020 season involved a foot injury that hobbled him into the postseason. After undergoing an MRI, it confirmed that he has plantar fasciitis. In mid-November, Voit received a platelet-rich plasma injection to help with the healing process. Voit claims the plantar fasciitis won’t be an issue in 2021. Rest should help with recovery, but hopefully, it doesn’t affect him too much next season.

Voit checks several boxes – OBP skills, line drive rate, power, and hitting in the heart of the Yankees lineup. Although Voit’s OBP dropped, he displayed a more aggressive approach that potentially led to more power and an increased batting average. With the quality line drive rate, he provides a decent floor while also rocking a quality walk rate. Fantasy managers can handle the lowered walk rate in 2020 since it paired with improved counting stats across the board. Assuming Voit picks up where he left off in 2020, he’s worth a top-50 ADP, especially in OBP leagues. Even with zero steals, over a full season, he could perform similarly to a Jose Abreu and Freddie Freeman type of player. Although, that projection is likely his ceiling.

The 2020 MLB season is over, but we are already preparing for next season. Keep track of all our 2020-21 MLB Offseason Analysis.

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