Daniel Vogelbach Has Now Proven Me Wrong...Twice

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When the Pittsburgh Pirates first signed Daniel Vogelbach, I was more excited about the guy they were getting than the player.  The guy was a massive bowling ball of a power hitter with a mohawk and loved to have fun on the field with crazy outfits.  Guys like that who can occasionally hit bombs are just fun to have on the team.  However, the player was a career .210 hitter who really only had one productive season under his big belt. 

While I was happy to have a fun, and new, guy to root for, on a team I didn’t expect to have a particularly successful season, I did not expect much from Vogelbach’s play on the field.  I saw him as a platoon DH who may split at-bats with Yoshi Tsutsugo and Michael Chavis.  Vogelbach would hit a few towering, yet inconsequential, homeruns in games the Pirates would still end up losing.  Aside from those he’d bat around the .200 mark he was consistently displaying in most of his time playing.

Then the news started to surface that the Pirates would place Vogelbach in the leadoff spot on a regular basis.  This shocked me.  What is a guy, at 270 lbs, doing in the leadoff spot?  

Look, I don’t continue to bring up Vogelbach’s weight to knock the guy.  Truth be told, I’m on the heavier side.  I just think he’s made a living in baseball by being a larger power hitter who puts his weight into his swings.  It’s certainly not meant to be an insult.  However, it’s also not expected from a leadoff hitter.   

I knew he had the reputation of seeing a lot of pitches and was patient enough at the plate to draw some walks.  However, how many walks can a .200 hitter draw to make up for clogging the bases.  If he walks and Bryan Reynolds or Ke’Bryan Hayes doubles after him, I’m not sure he’s scoring from 1st base.  Plus, don’t you want ducks on the pond for one of his towering homeruns??  And I saw him as splitting at-bats, maybe playing 60-70 games.  I wasn't expecting him to get regular playing time. 

Well, while Vogelbach has proven me right to be excited about him, he has also proven me wrong…twice.  He is far more than just a platoon DH who looks like he should be on the World’s Strongest Man competition.  He also is not just a power hitter as I had misconceived.  And against right-handed pitchers, he actually does belong in the leadoff spot.

I know it's a small sample size, but in ten games played this season, Vogelbach is 11 for 34 with a .924 OPS, two homeruns, and four walks.  He has also scored seven runs.  As the leadoff hitter he is batting .333, and has shown no lack of run-scoring ability with five so far this season.  Also, while a much smaller sample size, he is actually batting better against lefties than righties.

All of these numbers tell me so far that Vogelbach, when given regular playing time, is more than just a power hitter.  He has the both the ability to be patient at the plate, and take a walk when needed, while also hitting for average.  Again, it is a small sample size, as we are only twelve games into the season, but Vogelbach has shown in his career that when given regular playing time, he can have a decent season.

So I’m now excited for Vogelbach in two ways.  I’m excited to root for the guy and the player, and I hope to continue to see him in the Pirates lineup wherever Derek Shelton chooses.  Plus, anyone in the lineup really not named Cole Tucker or Josh VanMeter is fine by me.    

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