I almost wrote this report a week and a half ago when Daniel Vogelbach was hitting .328/.369/.397, and I’m glad I waited. While Vogelbach was hitting the ball hard, his approach had left a lot to be desired. But, as I’m sure most of you have heard, Dan Vogelbach is absolutely killing the baseball recently, and he has moved his season line up to .309/.346/.479. The weather has gotten warmer, the rainouts have mostly ended, and I expect Vogelbach to continue improving his line as he’s able to get into a rhythm.
I have trouble being partial about Vogelbach when I write about him, because I’ve read so much about him in the past, and have him built up as this amazing hitter in my head. The truth is that there is a lot Vogelbach needs to improve upon if he’s going to be a major league first baseman in the future. His approach has been poor at times this year, he’s made as much poor contact as he has good contact, and he needs a lot of work defensively. However, when you look past the current state of his game, you see a potential monster. Dan Vogelbach has frightening power and a short swing that will give a lot of utility to his power.
Kenny’s thought’s on Vogelbach’s swing
There really is nothing bad to say about his swing, he is a very athletic hitter. Even with the leg kick he has great balance. Also looks like he loves the low stuff (like most lefties) and everything he barrels up it hit HARD.
I have little to dd to this personally. Vogelbach’s swing is very compact, partially due to his short stature, and he gets the bat through the zone with extreme speed. It’s a powerful swing, but not one specifically designed to generate power – rather, Vogelbach’s swing is very efficient and allows him to make a lot of contact. The power comes from his strength and the bat speed he generates, and he doesn’t have to sacrifice contact to hit the ball hard. His hips are very flexible for a large guy, and they explode as the bat comes forward. His hips are also very well timed with his hands – watch his left hip turn right in time with his hands as he swings. Such good timing allows him to efficiently turn his strength into bat speed.
If I have one concern with what I have seen out of Vogelbach this year, it is his approach so far. He seems to be pressing, as he is swinging at a lot of pitches early on. Indeed, his walk rate has fallen to just 6.7% and his strikeout rate is 13.5%. This is a sign that he is not getting deep into count in many games, not just the ones I’ve been to.
A troubling side-effect of this swing-heavy approach is all of the weak contact Vogelbach is generating. You could point to his .282 BABIP and say he’s been unlucky, but that is not the case. He’s been swinging at a lot of pitcher’s pitches and hitting very weak ground balls and popups. With such a fast, short swing, you’d think Vogelbach could wait until the ball was very deep in the zone before having to swing, something that should afford him great selectivity. Down the road I imagine that he will start taking many more walks, but before that happens he’ll need to settle down and wait for more pitches he can drive.
It is loud. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing him hit a home run yet, but I’ve seen him sting balls all over the park. When he does wait on good pitches to hit, he can smack the ever-loving you-know-what out of the ball. He isn’t really elevating baseballs right now (in games I have seen him in), but the amount of line drives he’s hitting is enough to make me think he’ll be just fine.
The weak contact he makes has generally been a product of getting fooled. Remember, Vogelbach is only 20 years old and full-season pitchers are throwing stuff at him that he probably hasn’t seen much of. Once he adjusts to it, hopefully some of the balls he has just grazed will start to be hit more soundly.
It’s also worth noting that Vogelbach has some trouble with pitches away. Good off-speed stuff on the outer third has been a problem for him, especially from lefties.
20 grade speed, would go lower if the scale allowed for it. Even if he lost a bunch of weight there’s just no way he’d be an above average-runner with his short frame.
Dan Vogelbach is a horrific defender at the present. His footwork is a mess, he’s slow, he has no range, and he’s short. While the height, speed, and range are never going to get better, there is hope that he can learn better footwork around the bag at first.
A few weeks ago I saw Vogelbach completely misplay a throw from J. Candelario. Jeimer had rushed the ball and it was slightly high, but Vogelbach was forced to leave the bag to catch the ball. Vogelbach shuffled his feet three times before settling on using his left foot to stay on the bag (wrong foot), and then had to leap to get to ball. If Vogelbach had had his right foot on the bag, he probably could have had the throw. If Vogelbach was 6’2″, he probably could have had the throw. But the combination of poor footwork and a non-ideal frame really works against him.
He could iron out the footwork issues, but even then Vogelbach would be a below-average first baseman. His lack of height will bring him off the bag way more often than other first basemen in the league. His lack of speed will harm him on bunt defense and foul popups (I’ve already seen him miss some very catchable balls because he cannot get there in time). The lack of range comes from slow feet (part of the problem with his footwork too), and he’s never going to have much more than fall-down range.
Vogelbach has significantly more value if he’s a first baseman, but it looks like it will be a struggle to get him to the point where he is not a complete liability in the field. Watching him play has made the reports of “very likely future DH” make a ton of sense.