G-Moneyball on Dan Vogelbach
We will be following young Vogue's career with GREAT interest


Thrilled to have Gordon back just in time for the amateur draft and the July 31 trade deadline!  

As you know, G is absolutely Dr. D's #1 guy in Seattle for the minors - no disrespect to Spectator who is upper crust also.  G related also that he's already been following Vogelbach's career with GREAT interest .... for some three years.  So, yeah, like a Cubs fan would benefit from axing Mo' Dawg about Mike Montgomery, we're glad here to have the Think Tank at full capacity.

Dig in to the Shout Box for G's full commentary.  For those who are skimming a bunch of sites, we'll offer the Exec Sum.  Those who can't do --- > tech write.

G sez,

1)  Eventual DH who you'd play now at 1B in a pinch (Doc sez on the 1B/DH issue ... like Chiun told Remo Williams.  He move like baboon with Two. Club. Feet.  And check Vogue's weight already at the 0:20 mark on this vid)

2)  Real Deal hitter who already is Seth Smith and who could become John Kruk or Billy Butler  (DiPoto was quoted that Vogue could help right now - at DH no less)  

2a)  Seth Smith for us, would become an MVP if Oakland got him

;- )

3)  Upside maybe up towards Kevin Youkilis  

4)  Perhaps HR's are delayed because of Vogue's reasonable "take what they give you" attitude

5)  This Fangraphs article gets two thumbs up from G



Dr D sez, just from a pure stats-analysis point of view ....

Going *IN* to 2016, an eyeball of Vogelbach's stats was considerably LESS optimistic than Cubbies fans had him.  You don't have to sit there with a hand calculator; KATOH did that and projected him to 0.7 WAR through age 28.  That's not a guarantee; it's just an observation that through 2015, the stats weren't a big deal.

I concur with this.  There's nothing too remarkable about -- for example -- hitting .270/.360/.430 at age 21 in high-A.  Remember our rule of thumb for blue-chippers?

  • Age 20 - bats cleanup in high A
  • Age 21 - bats cleanup in AA (Here's where Vogelbach was "meh" while repeating A+)
  • Age 22 - bats cleanup in AAA
  • Age 23 - is the best hitter in AAA (Dr. D just made that one up)

The big attraction was the batting eye, the bat control and the projection for (a lot) more power.  Remember, Alex Rodriguez was 18 when scouts could visualize him.


But IN 2016, he went ahead and hit the 15 homers in half a year, while maintaining an OBP way over .400.  Here is what a .425 OBP looks like in the Pacific Coast League, and a lot of those guys at .380 are Stefen Romero.

Vogelbach has been the best hitter in the PCL this year, at age 23.  Hence the lead-in above.  Heh.

Sabermetrically, Vogelbach has been UNREADABLE and VOLATILE.  What we have been able to read has been, not so exciting.  But in 2016 he justified the Baseball America crew and simply exploded in AAA.

That's my take on the stats part of it.

Next post,

Dr D



This year is what boosted Vogelbach back up for sure.  Legit question:  would you rather have Tank O'Neill or Dan Vogelbach?  With Kyle Lewis out with that blown ACL, those are the top 2 system hitters.  O'Neill is a huge ball of muscle but he can still move and throw as a corner OF, while Vogelbach is strictly 1B/DH.

21 year old O'Neill: .260 / .315 / .560 in A+ Cal last year with a .2 batting eye, .295 / .360 / .520 this year in AA with a .35 eye

23 year old Vogelbach: .280 / .415 / .435 in AA last year with a 1:1 batting eye, .320 / .425 / .550 this year in AAA with a .8 eye

O'Neill could turn into a pumpkin at any time (still has a 25.4% K rate, much improved from last year 30.5% but still borderline) but his raw power is as good as anyone's and he can play the OF which Vogelbach pretty much can't.  Is O'Neill gonna top out at Wlad Balentien? Is he Mark Reynolds?  Is he Nelson Cruz, who struck out 25% of the time in the minors at age 22 and 23 but has made a decent career for himself?

Vogelbach doesn't have O'Neill's in-game power yet (37% extra base hits in his minors career compared to 43% for O'Neill, which is Big-Mac-like). O'Neill's .242 career ISO is really impressive for a guy who's only 21.  But if you were only going to keep one, would you keep the one with the batting eye who also has big power, or go flat out for the guy with the 70 power-scale number and cross your fingers that he can make enough contact?

We have both, which is nice - but we could always trade one for a Chapman or Miller, and the one that would go right now looks like O'Neill.  Is he a chip you cash in before he turns into Ian Stewart or Greg Halman?  Seattle's inability to get even ONE of their free-swingers to produce on the big league level makes it hard for me to buy into O'Neill as a long-term solution, but then he deploys that smooth uppercut swing designed to hit moonballs to the heavens and I think maybe he's the one we've been waiting for.

I found getting Vogelbach to be interesting, considering we picked up a similar body style in Joe Rizzo.  Apparently we're okay with taking guys we think can hit and figuring out what to do with them.  I would probably take take Vogelbach over O'Neill from a certainty perspective (I trust Vogue more to get me 110-120 OPS+ figures in a couple of years) but I wouldn't trade either guy.  They're both aimed at being MOTO players banging balls off of and over walls for this squad when Cano is no longer a lynchpin and Cruz has retired.

And one's a lefty and one's a righty - just what you want in the middle of the order, right Doc?  The future corner hitters on this team circa fall 2018 as it looks right now are Seager, Tank, Vogue and Kyle Lewis.  I really hope that works out for us - if we can keep them all.


Where do you slot Vogelbach into the org system?  And with respect to Tyler O'Neill?  Your answer is info-taining, that you'll take both, one right and one left.

My basic reaction is the one you mentioned - that O'Neill has a few hundred mile markers on I-5 to get to where Vogelbach is now.  That was my reaction to Paxton vs Taijuan several years back, though of course we're way down I-5 with those two now so the reaction would be a new one.

Yeah, it's funny, you sleep on it a little and Vogelbach looks better rather than worse.


I figure the absolute ceiling comp for Vogelbach might be Ortiz, even though it's unlikely he approaches that career.  I've got zero expectation that he becomes the next Ortiz, just saying that seems like the peak of his family.

I'm having trouble finding the right comp of overall skills for O'neill.  Do you have a HOF level name or 2 in that family?  Maybe the same family as Jermaine Dye or?  Almost every RH OF that seems to me had a similar skillset played CF so maybe forgetting the position is best.  I was just hoping for a perfect fit.


Ultra downside would be somebody like Balentien who didn't actually catch on over here.  Reasonable expectation is somebody like Trumbo or Chris Carter (or if you prefer, Dave Kingman) who will crush homeruns and strike out a lot but never really produce a lot of WAR for you.  You could throw Alfonso Soriano in there too in his OF days.  Upside would be a more athletic Nelson Cruz, Frank Howard or Richie Sexson type who can play the outfield full-time. 

I can't bring myself to go full Albert Belle on the upside comp because it was the height of the steroid era and Belle was an absolute monster.  But that sort of scary frame and ability to flat-out damage a baseball would be the target for Tank.  He came in as a raw body builder and his batting eye has been getting better even as he's gone to face much more experienced pitchers at higher levels.

The problem with O'Neill's upside prediction is that most of the guys who hit like him and got really successful (Cruz, Belle, Sosa) have the PED question surrounding them.  So either Tank will try to be the best of the non-roiders, or he'll need to get his comps as far as Ks and walks into a more reasonable area and get some different comps as a major leaguer.


As a hitter I see what you're saying.   But he's a different class on the field (Soriano) and/or basepaths (the rest).   That's what was giving me difficulty in finding an overall comp.   Isn't Dye a pretty good fit all things considered?   Not enough power maybe? 


Since O'Neill is better in the field than his size would give you reason to believe.  He may look like the Hulk but he's not just a bodybuilder.  Dye was a pretty good athlete who his pretty well, took a few walks, had good power...

Dye's an eminently reasonable comp in theory - his career arc was so weird though, and he never struck out like O'Neill.  And Dye was never as good a defender (IIRC) as his athletic skills should have let him be.  He was a weird dude.

O'Neill is gonna be a weird dude too though.


We'll go with Ortiz #3 in the order and Jermaine Dye #4.  Good start on the dynasty.


In the other article, we mentioned the raw power on the slash-homer down the 3B line?

I was WONDERING!! where I saw that swing before.  That's exactly where!  Thanks Wishhiker.

didycel's picture

Maybe fewer strikeouts, and less power.  Cust played a lot of outfield in Oakland, but not sure if it's because he's terribly athletic. Don't remember if he was any good out there, but UZR says he was pretty bad.


Of course, Cust should have been in the bigs 3000 minor league ABs earlier - who gets 5400 minor league at-bats and then has a big-league 120 OPS+ in 2500 ABs?  Jack Cust, I guess.  Leading the bigs in Ks 3 years running is the reason, of course.  Nobody believed he could still hit in the bigs after striking out so much in the minors.  That particular part of Cust's game is not Vogelbach's MO.  

Cust struck out 26% of the time in the minors,, which is danger-zone stuff.  Vogelbach is under 17%.  At least Dan won't be stuck in the minors until his late 20s. :)  Definitely fewer strikeouts, and we'll see about the power.  I think Vogelbach is stronger than Cust - he just doesn't swing from his shoe-tops like Jack did.  He should have more power as he matures.


And Cust was on the cover of a Baseball Prospectus.  If we can agree that Vogelbach should be, then the curtain comes down on our whole discussion :- )


One little add here - Cust was pretty much at the other end of the spectrum from Vogelbach, as far as "take what they give you," in terms of the back leg swings.

These hitters are all in the same family; Cust is a cute little variation on it.  Rather, Vogelbach is a variation on the Three True Outcomes pitch stalkers.

didycel's picture

I orginally thought some of the swings I saw from Vogel looked a lot like those I'd seen from Cust, but now that Ortiz's name is being thrown in the discussion, I think I'm buying that comparison a bit more, especially when it comes to the shape of the swing head to toe.  So what was I seeing with Cust?  I believe I was seeing body control similarities.

When it comes to the development of useable in-game strength and power, I think Vogel is more Cust-like than Ortiz-like--not exactly like Cust, but more like Cust. This is just a feeling I get, stats aside, when I look, not just at the physical appearance of his body, but at his body control through motion. What stands out to me is that he doesn't seem to have that sharp and powefully precise snap that guys like Ortiz, or Prince Fielder have. I think even Tank has it, which is why I'm optimistic he can continue to narrow his eye ratio. Tons of guys have it at the top of every professional sport. Vogel has it, kind-of, but not quite like that.  

I watch a lot of pop-and lock dancing in my free time, and after watching thousands of dancers, I can tell that certain people just have this precision, control, and power that set them apart given equal experience and practice.  In dancing, it gives them the ability to generate illusions in a way that the exact same repeated motion from a dancer without the same body power can't quite duplicate.  Vogel, to my eye, is the really good dancer without that special body control.  Not because he's fat, but because it's not in him, maybe genetically, maybe due to his workout routine.

What I think that means is there is less power in his body than guys like Ortiz.  On top of that,  there are larger error bars on his swing precision than his MiLB stats may be telling us.  When confronted with MLB pitching I suspect, like almost everyone, those error bars will be exploited.  I'm curious how wide those bars are.  If too wide, his minor league eye ratio may not mean a lick, and we may have another guy who figured out how to look good in the minors.

In all, this is just my untrained eye making an observation, and it is one variable in the multivariable art of hitting and hiting for power.  I actually trust what the scouts (and you guys) see and say, and I'm pretty confident a faker can be spotted, even if I can't spot him. I don't think Vogel is a faker. I think he's a damn good prospect, but I'm skeptical of the star potential, probably the same way a lot of scouts were about Kyle Seager, who also does not have this special body control magic I speak of.




Good turn of words, "Shape of the swing head to toe."


Though I like Bat's point about TTO templates, that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of similarities with Cust.  He always looked "thoughtful" and calm when swinging a bat, had a thick body, could recognize strikes, etc etc.


How interesting!  About dancing.  A dancer (or critic) is going to develop their own eye for sports movements.

As far as the development of power goes, vis-a-vis dancing, I gotta think about that.  Good stuff.  For starters, though, what would you do about all the Jim Thome types who were stiff and mechanical and who developed power?  It's not like Vogelbach has never hit a 425-footer before.  He has flashed plus HR power, such as this year.  Curious what you do with the non-dancer-type HR guys.


Larger error bars in his swing precision.  Hmmmmm.  Several original ideas to chew on here.


didycel's picture

Wow, what a beast. Great career. Hit some of the most impressive homers I've seen.  Why doesn't Vogelbach do the Jim Thome dance?

Thome is much taller, 6-4, and earlier in his career, he was leeean-ish with a fairly tight body.  He was significantly leaner at the same age than Mr. Bach who carries Thome's 40-year-old weight in a younger, and much shorter, and stocky frame.  Different proportions mean they set-up and execute with different shapes, and shapes and proportions carry intrinsic physical advantages and disadvantages, setting parameters for the forces needed to manipulate them.  An example is the difference between a large gear cog and a small gear cog.  Both weighing the same; the smaller cog requires a less force and control to get the same spinning speed, and less to slow down.  Also, once the cog is in motion, changes along the x-axis become more difficult ie: without tremendous body power you can't tilt the cog at high speed.  Few people can simultaneously tilt the cog AND do so precisely-with consistency. Thome, being taller and leaner manipulates his cog very well-the cog, of course being the collective system of hips, waist, shoulders, head, arms, hands, and bat.

Thome was never mechanical or stiff, (neither is Vogel) especially from the hips to the hands. Fluidity, and free range of motion are important, but it's not the issue here. From the waist up Thome's in control- navigating a powerful, violent, complex motion with microscopic precision-like Giancarlo, maybe just a tick below.  He easily transitions from large to small cog and back-easily tilts his cog up and down.  Vogel does the same thing, but like I said, the level of tightness in body control tells me the doesn't control his body cog with the same precision, meaning larger error bars.

Because of Thome's proportions, there is  less pressure on him to have that special Ortiz or Fielder-like torso control, except that he is right up there with them, making him HOF elite.  Ortiz, BTW, spent a lot of his career a bit lighter than Vogel is now, and still 3 inches taller-a small cog from the get-go.  The taller man can, typically, better control the bigger cog.  He is just typically stronger.  When you add the elite body control, you get to another level.

Thome maintained most of this upper-half throughout his career and then tapered off like everyone does with age.   Regarding his lower half control, well, he was not springy.  He'd make a terrible balerina, much less a Jack Cust center fielder.  His legs were a bit busier catching his post-swing motion when he was lean and young,.  Later, it seems he figured out how to do his swing without sloshing his legs about, allowing him  to be more plump without penalty.  In that sense he's more like Vogel.  


As to the violence, Thome kept that steel-hard "hitter's triangle" and used the massive chest.  'Bach no way.  

Was more wondering your thoughts about HR guys in general who use mechanics that you as a dance critic dislike.  It's not a challenge, just curious.


And your last line is a little modest.  Like James says, if your defensive rating system says Johnny Bench was a bad catcher, get a new system.

Cust was amusing to see in the outfield.  Not sneering, just chuckling.  Didn't Billy Beane* even put him in center field a few games?!  Not at all unlike putting Robinson Cano at shortstop.


Vogelbach is an entirely different sort of hitter than Cust. His K% is WELL below 20%, so he's NOT a TTO hitter. The hitter TYPES he's closest to include Ortiz, Victor Martinez, and Miggy Cabrera. Those are obviously the high end of his potential, but the type is a GOOD hitter, not a swing-from-the-heels TTO type. O'Neill may be closer to Cust, and may be more of a #5 or #6 hitter as a result. Vogelbach just is too good a hitter to be compared to Cust, except as a body type. I prefer to see Vogelbach as Miggy's body type.


To be fair, Miggy was pretty fit and played a poor SS/mediocre 3B early on.

He only got really pudgy after getting to the majorsband started collecting MLB paychecks. 

So the body type might not match on an age curve. 


The TTO guys (in spirit)are stalking pitches to put hurt on them, gamblers essentially, whereas Vogelbach (and Edgar, and the early Ortiz) is merely being accurate about his craft.



Hey, just drove in from a quick trip to Vancouver Island and haven't had a chance to chime in on the Monty-Vogelbach trade.  Here goes....

1.  I have no reason to not like this trade.  It's a ballsy move and the pay-off may be pretty high.  I like Monty alot. Vogelbach's ceiling is worth finding out about. 

2.  I think the guy that immediately came to mind for me, when looking at Vogelbach, was John Kruk.  Same kind of look and swing...although all the highlights I see of our new guy are pulls...and Kruk used the whole field.  I suspect out guy does, too.  I just haven't seen the video of it.  Kruk?  .300-397-.446 in the bigs, in case you had forgotten.  Krukie hit .326-403-532 in his first AAA go-around. That was at age 23, btw.  Vogelbach compares nicely.

After Paxton's performance tonight, the M's are 3-1 since the break.  Remember that I said that 6-2 was the go/no go streak we needed to have.  Sweep Toronto who we are chasing...even 2 for 3 would be great...and get to 6-2, then we're going to be looking for that reliever to fill Monty's spot.  


"I ain't no athlete, I'm a baseball player!"

Yeah, Kruk is a VERY good comp. I like it. Hope Vogelbach has 50% of the personality; Tank apparently is a character, too. We need a Bone-type for flavor amidst the Cano smoothness and Seager grit. Martin and Marte are both "glad-to-be-here" types, and Zunino simply exudes energetic earnestness, so if Vogelbach can laugh a bit at his size while demolishing pitchers of all types and handedness, this team could yet become as beloved as the '95-'01 group.


Used to be, when sabes gave comps for minor leaguer's, they'd give a three-way trident of possible angles the hitter could take.  John Kruk looks to me like the guy 'Bach would be if he CHOSE to be.

Kruk had a career OPS+ of 134, I see on b-ref.com, and, would you believe this, a .341 BABIP lifetime :- )


Just looking at Vogelbach's lines vs RHP:

2014 (A+)  .294-364-472 48/58 BB/K

2015 (AA)  .293-.419-.454 46/46

2016 (AAA) .339-451-563 44/46

You will notice the improving slope (PCL parks certainly don't hurt) AND the remarkably consistent BB/K ratio

The record indicates that he's a heck of a tough out vs RHP.  DiPoto surely noticed....

What's a cost-controlled Kruk (or Lind) worth?


Kruk was a notch above both Lind and Seth Smith against RHP  (OPS's of .899, .853, .835...and Kruk had a .416 OBP vR) but he was THREE notches ahead of them vs LHP.  (.722, 590, .596).  V-bach is gunning a .916 vL in AAA this year.  

If that carries over to a .700+ MLB vL OPS...then he's a real thing.  Lind and Smith have always had value but it is limited by their platoon needs.  Vogelbach, like Kruk, may be a notch above.  

Or not....

I lke Monty a lot.  But the promise/potential/ceiling/hint (take your pick) of a 162 game DH/1B is dang sexy.

And that may be the 1st time that our new Round Mound of Pound (I like it!!) is called sexy.


This is addenda stuff...but I thought it was interestig.

Here's a neat interview with former big league scout Bernie Pleskoff (I think he worked with the M's) where he complares V-bach to Boog Powell.  No, not our pill-popper but the original one.

Man, Doc...you and I should have come up with that one.   Earl is disappointed in us.

Pleskoff really likes V-Bach's bat...as you can tell.

Boog led the AL in slugging at age 22 but he was more Kruk than Smith/Lind.  Career OPS was 134, identical to Kruk and he hit lefties decently (.713 OPS) as well as whacking RHP (.858).  

I am not opposed to calling Vogelbach "Boog."  If the shoe fits......

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