Please don’t laugh at me. My love for Mariners 1B Daniel Vogelbach is no secret. My fantasy baseball teams name is the “Voluptuous Vogelbachs”. I own more Vogelbach garb than I do Kyle Seager. I almost picked Vogey as my guy last year but instead, I went with Edwin Diaz.
I’d say that worked out okay. This year, however, SHOULD be Vogey’s best opportunity to show the Mariners what he can do at the Major League level.
In his time with the Mariners, Vogelbach has been given as little opportunity as possible. With Nelson Cruz at DH and Vogeys below average defense at first, his chance has been few and far between. With the Mariners in a playoff race, they were not willing to sacrifice at-bats to an unproven talent (although I wouldn’t describe Ryan Healy as spectacular)
Now, in a season that will be seen as a rebuilding year, it makes no sense to not finally see what Daniel Vogelbach has to offer a big league club. Although, finding at-bats will not be easy for the 26-year-old lefty. With the addition of Jay Bruce, Edwin Encarnacion, and even Domingo Santana, the plate appearances just don’t seem to be there. Of course, this could change in an instant if one of the aforementioned players is traded.
Vogey became a Mariner back in 2016 after the Cubs traded him for pitcher Mike Montgomery. In 253 games in Tacoma since then, he has hit 44 home runs with 195 walks and 191 strikeouts. He is a career .287/.395/.483 at the Minor League level. Needless to say, Daniel Vogelbach has nothing left to prove at the lower levels.
So what makes me think Vogey can break out in 2019? First off, it just doesn’t make sense for him to not get a chance this year. He should finally be given the opportunity that he has deserved for the last three-plus years. That makes him an easy candidate for a breakout season. In 146 plate appearances with the Mariners, Vogelbach has hit .190/.301/.315 with four home runs. While he did hit two of the coolest home runs of 2018, it shouldn’t be hard for him to improve on those numbers if given the chance.
Also, there is no reason to believe that Daniel Vogelbach can’t succeed in the majors. Defensively, he is a liability but with a bat in his hands, Vogey has the talent to be a middle of the order type bat. 2018 was easily his best year. In just 84 games at AAA Tacoma, Vogey hit .290 with a .434 (!) OBP. He also mashed 20 home runs in that span, meaning almost a fourth of his hits left the yard. He has hit at every level and it is clear that his bat is advancing well past the AAA level.
His numbers are astounding, but that is not the only reason that Daniel Vogelbach is my guy. He is also a great clubhouse presence. He is funny and likable. He is always one of the first ones on the dugout steps to greet his teammates after an inning. Players like Vogey have a talent that cannot be quantified by any analytics.
Vogey could easily take over a leadership role in the coming years if he is given the chance. And he is just genuinely fun to watch. Nobody has ever come close to nailing a bullseye above the Hit it Here Cafe. Who could forget Nellie’s face after that monster mash?
Looking forward to next year, it is hard to picture what is in store for Daniel Vogelbach. Via Steamer, Vogey is projected a .247/.347/.426 with 7 home runs and 23 RBI in 182 plate appearances, good for an fWAR of .5. That is by far the most action Daniel Vogelbach has ever seen at the big league level but still seems low for a team that needs to see what they have out of a young power hitter in a rebuilding year.
Throughout his career, Vogelbach has been an extreme pull hitter, which may bode well at T-Mobile Park. He has pulled 51.2% of the balls he put in play and has gone opposite field just 15.1% of the time in the big leagues. He will be prone to the shift with such an approach, however, and we have seen what that can do to a player. Just look at Kyle Seager.
In AAA, Vogey hit the ball the other way 37.3% of the time and pulled it just 41.9%. If the approach can translate to the Majors, Vogelbach could find success against even the best teams.
Vogelbach isn’t going to win many foot races. He relies on the “Elevate to Celebrate” mantra, which he just hasn’t had much luck with in the Majors. He has a 43% groundball rate in the majors with just a 24.4% line drive rate which doesn’t equate to the numbers you want to see out of a prototypical Designated Hitter, albeit a small sample size.
Fangraphs has Vogey rated as a future 40 overall on a scale of 80. A lot of his diminished value comes from a lack of defensive versatility as well as a lack of making the most of his limited opportunities. If Daniel Vogelbach can reach his max potential with the Mariners, he could be a perennial All-Star. 2019 is a make or break season for the big lefty.
He is out of options, so he must be with the team or be subjected to waivers where he almost certainly will get picked up. This season with being his biggest yet and its time to see if Vogey will sink or swim at the big league level.