Milwaukee Brewers: It's Time to be Done with the Luke Voit Experiment
By Matt Carroll
One of the best stories of spring training for the Milwaukee Brewers was that of 1B/DH Luke Voit. Lately, however, the story has been looking like one that could soon be coming to an end.
Not long after pitchers and catchers reported for the spring, the Brewers signed Voit to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Among other things, the move created some competition with incumbent backup first baseman Keston Hiura.
The 2020 American League home run champ impressed in Cactus League play for the Crew. In 16 games, he hit .310 with a .927 OPS, slugging a pair of doubles and a trio of homers while driving in six runs and scoring six.
After pushing a possible opt out date forward, Voit was eventually added to the roster at the expense of Hiura. The hope was that the former would be able to provide more production, especially against lefties, than the latter. 36 games into the season, that definitely has not been the case.
It's time for the Brewers to be done with the Luke Voit experiment.
Outside of a brief spurt of productivity, Voit has been mostly cold to start the 2023 season. In 19 games, he is slashing just .217/.277/.250. He has just two extra base hits, both doubles, and has a whopping 22 strikeouts to just three walks.
That 36.7% strikeout rate is only a little better than the much lamented 41.7% rate that Hiura put up last season for Milwaukee. And things get even worse when you look at his performance against lefties, one area the Brewers could desperately use some assistance.
On Tuesday night, the right-handed Voit notched his 17th strikeout against a left-handed pitcher in 29 plate appearances. That brought his batting average against southpaws down to a microscopic .069 and is equivalent to a 58.6% strikeout rate.
Now yes, this is all based off a very small sample size. But the Brewers need help against lefties right now. And as a backup first baseman and designated hitter, there really isn't any reason to give Voit a particularly long leash.
As he reached five years of service time earlier this season, Voit can refuse a minor league assignment, thus deciding to move on likely means designating him for assignment. The question, then, is what other options are there for his roster spot?
For one, the Brewers could always bring back Hiura. He is absolutely mashing down at Triple-A Nashville, but he has done that in the past as well. Bringing him back to the majors could just result in the same results as the last few years. But would that really be that much worse than what Voit is providing right now anyway?
A better option could be giving Owen Miller the opportunity to back up first base and recalling Abraham Toro to fill in as a utility infielder. Miller, who has first base experience, has hit lefties quite well to start 2023, slashing .375/.407/.417. Toro, meanwhile, is off to a hot start in Nashville, slashing .290/.376/.374 with nine doubles already.
Either way, it might just be time to move on from Voit. It was a good story while it lasted, but good stories don't necessarily result in runs scored and wins.