Luke grew up just outside of St. Louis and was drafted out of high school by the Royals.
He said he felt he wasn't mature enough to handle professional baseball then, so he went to Missouri State, where he was a four-year starter. He was thrilled to be drafted by his hometown team, and in 2016, he played in the same stadium—Hammons Field—in which he played his college games in Springfield, Missouri.
Voit got his strong work ethic from his father, Lou, who took over the family business, Chemsac Chemicals, from Luke's grandfather.
Even today, when Lou travels to watch Luke play, he will find a way to make it a work trip by finding a business opportunity to explore. He taught his sons to stay fit and eat right, from a young age.
In 2013, the Cardinals drafted Voit (see Transactions below).
Back before he returned to the Major Leagues as a manager, Mike Matheny did some consulting and coaching for catchers—and at least one hometown favor.
A friend asked him to take a look at a catcher at Lafayette High in suburban St. Louis, but that would not be the last time Matheny had an eye on Luke Voit.
“He just continues to put up numbers,” Matheny said.
Matheny saw Voit again at Missouri State, where the manager’s son Tate (who now plays in the Red Sox system) also played. (Derrick Goold - Baseball America - 6/09/2017)
Voit got a huge ovation from the mostly-Cardinals fans, who were screaming, "Luuuuke," as he confidently strode to the plate. This was June 25, 2017, when he made his big league debut. A native of St Louis, Luke was hit by Pirates pitcher Martinez. When Luke got to first base, as the crowd roared even more loudly, Voit smiled widely and warmly.
A real dream come true.
Luke headed home with more than just a baseball. The impact of his Major League debut was also imprinted on his back. Voit became the fifth player in Cardinals history to be plunked by a pitch in his Major League debut and the first since at least 1918 to have it happen in his first plate appearance. An ovation that started when Voit stepped in as a pinch-hitter in the Cardinals' eventual 8-4 win continued as he jogged to first.
Voit grinned the whole way. Cameras captured his parents cheering from the stands.
"My brother and I grew up playing football, beating each other up. You just wipe it off," Voit said. "I didn't even feel it honestly. I had so much adrenaline running through me. I felt like I was in my backyard again, you know. It was awesome."
He used that word throughout the day on Sunday after stepping into Busch Stadium for the first time since the 2014 postseason—when he sat in the stands as a fan. Voit had last walked on the field in 2013, when he attended a scouting showcase as a Missouri State University catcher. The Cardinals ended up drafting him in the 22nd round.
Waiting for him when he arrived was a handwritten note from David Freese who, like Voit, is a graduate of nearby Lafayette High School. In the stands were dozens of friends and family members who scrambled to buy tickets to see the hometown kid make his debut about 30 miles from where he grew up serving as a batboy for Ryan Howard and adopting the same swing as baseball hero, Mark McGwire.
"It's what I've been waiting for since I was a little kid, man," said Voit, who wore No. 40. "Growing up, you know, being a Cardinals fan, coming to Busch every year, I don't know, I've been shaking since last night. It's a great feeling."
He worked the count full in his seventh-inning plate appearance, which was intermittingly interrupted by fans chanting his first name.
"I don't think I've ever seen an initial ovation for a first at-bat like that," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I asked him if he left 10,000 tickets tonight. But a lot of people have been watching his career from Lafayette to Missouri State through our system. I think people just love his story, too: That guy who didn't have the golden road paved for him."
Before he could earn this trip back home, Voit had to take to a position change, figure out his swing and carve out space on rosters even though he wasn't considered a prospect. He tapped into more power when he began trying to hit more balls in the air last year.
"I'm confident in my abilities, and I'm ready to give it a go," Voit said. "I've been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, and I'm going to go out there with a killer attitude and, you know, hit bombs and doubles." (Langosch - mlb.com - 6/25/17)
In 2018, Baseball America rated Voit as the 16th-best prospect in the Cardinals organization.
Everyone who has played baseball has dreamed about his first Major League at-bat ending in a home run or at least a clutch hit. Luke's dreams were no different, but reality can be cruel. His first trip to the plate ended in him getting plunked in the back.
It may be inconceivable now, but there was a time when Voit was struggling to hit home runs in the Minor Leagues. Luckily for him, his grandmother Joan knows how to get her grandson out of a slump: Promise to pay him for each dinger he hits. Hopefully Joan has been saving up.
A lot of power hitters have a signature reaction when they know they've hit a ball to the moon whether it's a bat flip, a bat drop or a stare. Voit does something a bit different. He does a little hop when he knows the ball is gone. Most players high five their third base coach as they finish up their home run trots. But Voit and Nevin go above and beyond with their home-run-trot celebrations. They've ditched the formal handshake or high five and gone all in on a leaping elbow-bump. (Chesterton - mlb.com - 9/5/18)
Luke's younger brother, John Voit, was a defensive lineman for the Army football team.
Luke is a strong dude. Voit's strength was demonstrated in the gym as he bench-pressed 135 pounds with one hand! While 135 pounds may not sound like a lot of weight for a big guy like Luke, but it requires balance and strength. (Chesterton - mlb.com - 9/19/18)
Going from the familiarity of the Cardinals' organization to the concrete jungle that is New York City, required an adjustment for Voit.
That big, old pickup truck that Luke took off-roading during the winter didn't really fit on the crowded streets of the Big Apple, so he sold it and bought a subway card. He still has fondness for his home town—his Yankee Stadium at-bats are always preceded by St. Louis rapper Nelly. But little by little, New York has grown on him.
He never thought he'd attend a Broadway Show, but Voit saw "The Book of Morman" and enjoyed it. He discovered that on a random Tuesday night, he and his wife, Tori, could have dinner at Del Fresco's, and then go out on the town and not have to think about closing times. (They are living in New Jersey.)
July 7, 2020: Luke traded late-night snacks for long quarantine runs through his suburban St. Louis neighborhood, and the Yankees first baseman is proudly showing off the results through the early days of the club’s Summer Camp at Yankee Stadium.
Noticeably trimmer from when the Yankees scattered after Spring Training was shut down March 12, Voit said that he has shed 13 pounds from his listed weight of 255 pounds, attributing the change to “eating clean.”
“My wife [Tori] did a great job cooking,” Voit said. “It was not a lot of carbs, mostly meat and vegetables. I quit snacking late at night and I brought a lot of cardio to the table too. It was just being strict and not having as many cheat meals on the weekends.”
Voit said that he adhered to a schedule at his Wildwood, Mo., home, aiming to perform two days of cardiovascular exercise per week and beginning each of his weightlifting sessions with a 1 or 1.5 mile run.
“I wanted to be really clean, just to be a little bit quicker for this year,” Voit said. “It worked out really well.” (B Hoch - MLB.com - July 7, 2020)
2020 Season: Without slugger Luke Voit, the Yankees might not have even competed. His power and efficiency at the plate fueled a Yankee squad damaged with injuries in the outfield and in the pitching rotation. Without Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and James Paxon for large chunks of the campaign, manager Aaron Boone had to rely on other players like Voit and Clint Frazier to pick up the load. They even dove into their youth ranks, elevating Deivi Garcia to the starting rotation.
Voit finished the year with a league-best and career-high 22 homers in just 56 games. That is a phenomenal rate and completely overhauled a lineup that lost multiple sluggers throughout the year.
It is also important to recognize that Voit suffered through a foot injury for the majority of the season, battling and playing despite the pain. Other Yankees were unable to do the same, but his toughness and grit showed why he is an essential piece to the roster and a player that management can rely on daily.
In terms of improvement, Voit has taken steady leaps yearly to become a more competent and complete player.
“I just feel more compact, stronger. One thing this year too is I’m finishing with two hands. I think that’s helping me with my bat path through the zone and getting better extension,” Voit said on his increased power in 2020.
Luke slimmed down this season, taking off a bit of weight and adding more muscle mass to his frame. That gave him more athleticism and bat speed, making him a more complete hitter. However, it also added in his power, allowing him to hit nearly a home run every two games.
“We’re seeing the growth of a really good hitter that’s gone to another level,” Aaron Boone said in September. “It’s hard to imagine where we’d be without Luke Voit.” (Alexander Wilson - October 25, 2020)
Dec 17, 2020: Luke will be among the honorees for the 41st annual Thurman Munson Award, held virtually on Feb. 2, 2021. The ceremony recognizes success and inspiration on the field and community spirit off the field.
Since its inception, the program has raised more than $17 million to benefit the AHRC NYC Foundation. The not-for-profit organization supports programs enabling children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
AHRC NYC is one of the largest organizations of its kind, serving 15,000 children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries and other disabilities. (B Hoch - MLB.com - Dec 17, 2020)
June 2013: Voit was the Cardinals 22nd round pick, out of Missouri State University. He signed with scout Jared Odom.
- July 28, 2018: The Yankees traded LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP Giovanny Gallegos to the Cardinals for Voit and future considerations.
|Birth City:||Wildwood, MO|
|Draft:||Cardinals #22 - 2013 - Out of Missouri State Univ.|
Voit has developed into a power threat and made the mechanical adjustment and, more importantly, the mental adjustment to get to his power.
"Obviously you want to show power numbers when you play a power position," Luke said in 2016. "I get paid to drive in runs. That's my job and I want to drive in as many as possible."
Voit adjusted his hands on his bat heading into the 2016 season and he's also trying to keep a more consistent, level head at the plate. He said not getting down too much when things go wrong has been the biggest improvement.
"I used to be the guy who would throw helmets and would be cursing up a storm," Voit said. "I'm not going to say I'm not that guy sometimes, but I've gotten a lot better. And I think that's just me evolving as a player and getting more mature, too. I've always been the kind that's under the radar," Luke said. "I don't care if I get all the attention anyway. I'm just trying to do what's best for the team and trying to get to the big leagues."
Voit keeps his hands low to start his swing, and that unusual setup had some evaluators wondering if he could catch up to Triple-A competition. He made traditional adjustments to his swing, too. He stopped hooking his foot and c losing off to the pitch, and he also shortened his stride.
A better base has meant better balance—and more attention. (June, 2017)
Luke has a lot of swing-and-miss. He can hit velocity pitches—from a fastball to a slider. But slower pitches, like a changeup or curveball, they give Voit trouble.
In 2018, among Major Leaguers who finished with at least 150 plate appearances, Mike Trout unsurprisingly led the way in wRC+ (191). But who finished second? Was it AL MVP Mookie Betts or NL MVP Christian Yelich?
No, it was Luke Voit, who put up a 187 wRC+ in 161 PAs divided between the Cardinals and Yankees. Voit took a mere 13 trips to the plate until late July, when New York acquired him from St. Louis for a pair of relievers, and then proceeded to give the first baseman-needy Yankees an answer at the position over the final couple months of the season.
During his first 148 PAs as a Yankee, the burly, boisterous Voit batted a video game-like .322/.398/.671 with a Ruthian ISO (.350) and 15 home runs. And Statcast backed up Voit’s production, ranking the soon-to-be 28-year-old first in barrels per plate appearance and expected weighted on-base average (.437) among those who racked up at least 150 PAs on the season.
While Voit benefited from a .365 batting average on balls in play, a number he may not approach again, the Yankees are understandably optimistic he’s good enough to serve as their No. 1 option at first going forward.
April 29, 2019: Voit earned the AL Player of the Week Award after hitting .433/.528/.867 with four homers and 10 RBIs in seven games, a span in which the Yankees went 6-1.
The slugger is a major reason why New York has gone 17-11 overall this season despite a rash of injuries to key players. This is Voit’s second AL Player of the Week Award, as he also won it in the final week of the 2018 regular season.
May 25, 2019: Luke's credit card statement took the hit, as the Missouri native had 60 friends and family members mingling on the outfield patio at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Like any good host, he provided those guests with some entertainment.
Voit smashed the longest home run of his career, a 470-foot blast to left field, to break a seventh-inning tie and lift the Yankees to a 7-3 victory over the Royals in the first game of a doubleheader.
"To hit probably the farthest home run I've ever hit in front of them was pretty surreal," Voit said. "I was on cloud nine in that at-bat. This stadium is one of my more favorite stadiums to play in; it's a pretty cool stadium. It's fun to do it here in front of family and friends."
Facing reliever Scott Barlow in the seventh inning, Voit pounced on an 0-1 slider. Voit knew that it was gone, permitting himself a few extra beats to track its flight as it cleared the visiting bullpen in left field. Voit was so enthralled that he neglected to go into his Sammy Sosa-style home run hop.
"I didn't mean anything bad, but it's one of those where you hit it, you don't really hit those very often," Voit said. "Everyone was like, 'Why didn't you do the hop?' I was like, 'I don't know!'"
It was a particularly meaningful moment for Voit, who was drafted by the Royals out of high school in 2009 but did not sign. The Cardinals selected him four years later out of Missouri State.
"He’s brought so much to the table for us," manager Aaron Boone said. "Obviously between the lines, he’s been really good. He’s loved coming here and being a Yankee. They love him in that room. He brings something to the park every day, just from an energy standpoint. We’re lucky to have him."
"The offense has been huge the last week; really, the whole season," Happ said. "We’ve put up some runs lately. It’s fun to see, that’s for sure."
Voit, who finished the afternoon 2-for-5 with two runs scored, has been a crucial and consistent presence as the Yankees weather a barrage of early-season injuries.
Voit noted that since the trade that delivered him to New York last July, he has hardly had the opportunity to play alongside Didi Gregorius, Judge, Sánchez and Giancarlo Stanton all at the same time, outside of last year's postseason.
"I'm super anxious for those guys to get back," Voit said. "I might be able to see a little bit more fastballs than I'm seeing. I'm obviously excited to get those back, but at the end of the day, this team is a lot of fun. It's the most fun team I've played on, for sure." (B Hoch - MLB.com - May 25, 2019)
May 1, 2020: Who has the best batting eye on the Yankees? First baseman Luke Voit:
When Aaron Boone declared that his lineup was filled with "savages in the box," Voit was one of the hitters that the manager was referring to. Voit's excellent eye played a large part in leading the Yanks to acquire him from the Cardinals in 2018, and they have been rewarded with 35 homers, 95 RBIs and a 140 OPS+ across 157 games.
Advanced stats make a compelling case for the value of Voit's eye: According to FanGraphs, Voit's 78.6 percent Z-Swing% (swings at pitches in the strike zone) tied for fourth in the AL in 2019. Voit's eye has resulted in a .384 on-base percentage thus far in his pinstriped tenure; that ranks eighth among AL players with at least 500 plate appearances from 2018-2019. –Bryan Hoch
2020 Season: Voit led the Majors with 22 home runs during the shortened regular season, bolstering the heart of the Yankees' lineup with 52 RBIs while stepping into a leadership role in the clubhouse. Since being acquired in a July 2018 trade, the first baseman has compiled a .279/.372/.543 slash line (143 OPS+) with 57 home runs and 147 RBIs in 213 games.
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Luke's career stats were: .274 with 62 home runs and 168 RBI in 899 at-bats.
Luke has worked himself into being a very good first baseman.
Voit, for the first time, spent an equal amount of time to improve his defense and his hitting. He traveled to Tampa, Florida to work one-on-one with Yankees infield coach Carlos Mendoza, who prescribed a robust package of drills.
"I worked on getting into a good position for every pitch, timing the ball off the bat, small things like that," Luke said. "We did cone drills, speed-agility stuff to get a little quicker with that first step. I got big into lacrosse balls off the wall, bouncing them in different directions to work on hand-eye stuff. And then, the baseball part of consistently working on my backhand, making sure of my feet. I think that was the biggest thing—my footwork was kind of bad. I would get crossed up and maybe that ball that was three or four feet to my right I wasn't getting to. Now I'm getting to it with ease. (Nathan Maciborski - Yankees Magazine - June, 2019)
April 6-19, 2018: Voit was on the DL.
June 29, 2019: Voit was removed from the 17-13 victory over the Red Sox with tightness in his lower left abdomen. The slugging first baseman said that no tests are scheduled, but he will be re-evaluated by the Yankees' medical staff and he hopes to avoid having to go on the injured list.
"Man, I hope not, but I can't tell the future," Voit said.
June 30-July 12, 2019: Luke was on the IL with abdominal strain.
July 20, 2019: Luke was removed from the Yankees' 11-5 win over the Rockies in the fifth inning following a hit-by-pitch that grazed his left shoulder before hitting him in the chin. It was a 91.4 mph four-seam fastball from Chad Bettis. Voit left the game for precautionary reasons and underwent concussion protocol testing.
July 30, 2019: Voit was removed from the Yankees' 4-2 loss to the D-backs in the top of the fifth inning with what was announced as a core muscle injury. "He was having a hard time getting loose before the game, and he didn't feel like he did anything to it. We'll wait and see what the results say, and try and get our arms around it," Boone said.
July 31-Oct 12, 2019: Luke was on the IL with sports hernia.
Oct 2019: Voit had surgery to repair his bilateral core muscle injuries, a procedure performed by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia. Voit was expected to be ready for the beginning of Spring Training 2020.