Photo: Jon Wells
Height: 6'0" Weight: 250
Bats/Throws: Left / Right
Born: 12/17/1992 in Orlando, Florida
Acquired: In trade from the Chicago Cubs, with Paul Blackburn, for Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries (07/20/2016)
MLB Debut: 09/12/2016
Free Agent after: 2023 season
Twitter handle: @DanielVogelbach
It took three years, but Vogey has finally been given a chance to produce for the Mariners, and produce he has. After 25 games, he leads the league in OPS thanks to his prodigious home-run power and a selective batting eye. Vogelbach has homered once every seven at-bats thus far, and drawn a walk in one of every five plate appearances. He's claimed the regular DH job as his own and shows no sign of ever giving it up.
He has a broad fan base on Twitter and he has fans inside the game. Vogey's former manager in Triple-A, Pat Lsitach, compares him to Jason Giambi, the prototypical power hitter with patience. "Most really good hitters in baseball, the power comes later in their career, but Daniel’s always had it. He’s had the power and the patience at such an early age." Anthony Rizzo, the man that was blocking his way in the Chicago Cubs' organization, is delighted to see Vogey succeed. "I've always loved his swing. Whenever I see him, I want him to do well."
Mariners. Stop the charade. Daniel Vogelbach isn't just the starting DH, he could be a future superstar. Not star. Super. Star.— Scott Weber (@scottyweebs) April 21, 2019
Vogey has become a sort of mentee to new Mariner Jay Bruce, and the two can at times be seen talking hitting in the dugout. The two are both left-handed power hitters, and Bruce's demeanor makes him a good source for hitting advice. Vogelbach is often seen laughing with his new friend Yusei Kikuchi, and always makes sure to hug Felix Hernández after he hits a homer. He credits the team's chemistry and personal relationships with his newfound success: "The people in this clubhouse make [succeeding] easier,” Vogelbach said. “We have fun every time we come to the field. I feel like everybody belongs, and everybody is just as important as the person next to them. . . . Just becoming closer as a team really helps individuals. I think that’s a big step (in) my progress.”
It seems Vogey is finally going to get a chance. In 2017, he came to spring training expecting to make the big club as a platoon first baseman, but a meager spring line of .228/.313/.333 put an end to that idea and he was optioned down to Triple-A. Last year, with no expectations of making the club, he had a monster spring, batting .407/.529/.926 in Cactus League play and, with Ryon Healy hurt, made the opening day roster. But he only hit .204 in April and got shipped to Tacoma again when Healy returned. With nothing left to prove in the minors—his line in Triple-A over three seasons is .291/.411/.496—and no more minor-league options remaining on his contract, this appears to be the year for Vogelbach to put up or shut up with regular big-league at-bats.
He has big power and a stellar batting eye, but as you might expect from one with his build, no speed to speak of and not a lot of defensive range. Thanks to Kyle Seager opening the year on the newly-renamed injured list, finding playing time for Vogelbach won't be an issue in the early going. He figures to play most of his games as the designated hitter, but will also get some time at first base; that may flip-flop if Edwin Encarnación proves a liability at first, but either way Vogey should have an opportunity to launch a few long homers. When Seager returns, things will get a little murkier; the team will need to keep Encarnación in the lineup in an attempt to keep/make him attractive in a trade as they continue trying to unload his contract, and Jay Bruce will need to be in the mix as well, but unless Healy suddenly transforms himself into an actual hitter, it seems like an easy call to option him down to clear the deck.