Author: Domenic Lanza

The Infield Corners: Voit, Urshela, and Thoughts and Prayers [2021 Season Preview]

Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports

The Top-Flight First Baseman

On August 2, 2018, Luke Voit made his pinstriped debut. It was a relatively dull introduction to Yankees fans, as he went 0-for-4 in a 15-7 loss to the Red Sox. And, to be frank, it wasn’t all that shocking either; after all, Voit was a no-name 27-year-old first baseman that many assumed was the secondary piece in the deal that sent Gio Gallegos to the Cardinals for international bonus money.

As it turns out, that was the low point of Voit’s tenure.

Voit has hit .279/.372/.543 as a member of the Yankees, which is good for a 144 wRC+. That wRC+ ranks third among first basemen, behind 2019 MVP Cody Bellinger (who has played more outfield in this span) and 2020 MVP Freddie Freeman. That’s pretty good company, folks. And, if you want to go even deeper, his 144 wRC+ ranks 12th among all hitters.

Jameson Taillon and the Two-Time TJS Club

Photo by Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

On August 14, 2019, Jameson Taillon joined a rather exclusive club, becoming the 40th pitcher to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery. That group has become a bit less exclusive since then, as two additional pitchers have joined its ranks – but it is nevertheless a small pool of players. As a result of this, it is difficult, if not impossible, to draw conclusions as to what a second TJS may mean for Taillon’s future from such a small sample size. And yet I’m going to attempt to do so anyway.

The first step in this process will be to eliminate those pitchers whose surgeries occurred before they reached the majors. After all, Taillon tossed parts of four big league seasons between his trips to the surgeon, and having that major league baseline for comparative purposes is important. And so we say goodbye to:

  • Pete Fairbanks
  • Jason Frasor
  • Hong-Chih Kuo

Interestingly enough, all three of these pitchers were fairly successful. Fairbanks had a 2.70 ERA (158 ERA+) in 26.2 IP for the Rays last year, and looks to be a fixture in their bullpen; Frasor spent twelve years in the majors, pitching to a 3.49 ERA (125 ERA+) in 646.2 IP; and Kuo had a solid seven-year career, which included 60 IP of 1.20 ERA (324 ERA+) ball in 2010. All three were moved to the bullpen, which is certainly worth noting.

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