A few days ago, Yankees first baseman Luke Voit expressed his concerns with the presence of newly acquired Anthony Rizzo:
“I’m not going down. I want to play. Obviously I know it will be difficult with Rizzo, but I deserve to play as much as him. I led the league in the circuits last year. I feel really good again.
Both players are obviously very talented and bring enormous power to the squad they are part of. However, Voit’s quote would lead you to believe that Rizzo is widely regarded as the better player between the two. I understand how some people might think this. Rizzo has won the Gold Glove four times and is only five years from a among the top five National League MVPs. Meanwhile, Voit has been an below-average fielder, wasn’t even in the league five years ago, and had his best season during the COVID 2020 shortcut. However, Luke Voit deserves a lot more respect. , and yes, he deserves it just as much. , if not more, playing time than Anthony Rizzo.
I could easily show how every player has done in the stripes since the Yankees added Rizzo (Sees reduced .304 / .360 / .609; Rizzo reduced .176 / .231 / .265), but that’s only a small sample Size. Both players have missed a bit of time since then for various reasons – Rizzo: COVID; See : knee injury – and that only reinforces the idea that those few games in August could just be streaks that don’t properly indicate who should be included in the Yankees roster each day. However, Voit has been the top player at Rizzo for three years now, and has more than earned the right to hack the Bronx every night.
When in good health, Voit is one of the best powerful hitters in the game. There was a time when Anthony Rizzo could have claimed a similar title, but he is no longer an extreme power threat at the plate. As of the start of 2019, Rizzo has only five homers more than Voit, but Voit has 281 fewer at bat. Based on the HR / AB figures of Voit, Voit would have around 68 circuits. This would place Voir in a tie for the 19th across MLB, ahead of players like Matt Chapman, Xander Bogaerts, Rhys Hoskins and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – all of whom would have even more batsmen under their belt than Voit.
While Voit struggles to make contact, Voit has a much better chance of reaching base when making contact, making Rizzo’s plate discipline almost nil. Although Voit only struck 12 fewer strikes than Rizzo in 208 fewer appearances, the two actually have similar percentages on base (Rizzo: 0.347; Voir: 0.337). Sees also has a greater percentage hard hit than Rizzo (38.8% to 32.2%) and barrels rise more regularly than Rizzo (15.5% to 9.2%).
Additionally, while Rizzo has a much better resume in defense, he was actually a lower defenseman on first base than Voit. Through WAR FanGraphs, Rizzo has a -8.8 defensive WAR on first goal in 2021. Sees a -1.4 WAR. Even if Voit played as many innings as Rizzo on first base, at his current pace, Voit would still have a WAR of -5.6. Sees also has a higher ultimate zone index (1.3 to -1.3). So even though Voit has one more error than Rizzo on about a quarter of the occasions, it is Voit who has been the most effective defensive player.
Now, there are some arguments that make sense as to why Rizzo should have more playing time than Voit. For one thing, the Yankees already have their mighty guys in the middle of the roster. Judge, Stanton and Gallo are already an insane trio to lead baserunners. With them in the middle of your roster, the best thing a team can do is put contact hitters ahead of them to move your lead guys and set up those powerful hitters for RBI opportunities. With Sees struggling to make contact, Rizzo would make more sense two or three spots in the line-up than putting Voit in the 6 hole.
Second, the Yankees are already a predominantly right-wing roster before the recent deals. Only Brett Gardner, Tyler Wade, and Rougned Odor were proven threats from the left side of the plate (and I’m not sure we can call Gardner a threat yet). The Yankees knew they needed better left-handed sticks, and that was a big reason they came out and got Gallo and Rizzo. Rizzo’s insertion into the lineup gives the Yankees a lot more trim on the plate.
All in all, Rizzo and Voit could make a great first base tandem in the Bronx if used correctly. Despite being a left-handed hitter, Rizzo actually dominated left-handers far more than it has right-handed people in 2021. Perhaps that is how the Yankees plan to use both – starting Rizzo against left-handed people and Voit against right-handed people, backward as that sounds. However, if the playoffs arrive and the Yankees end up in the winner’s Wild Card game. I put Voit in the programming 100% of the time. No offense to Rizzo, he’s fantastic. Sees just got a little better.