Does Vogelbach's Weight Bother You AT ALL?
Rohrschach test, Dept.


I got to chipping out a little response to the Dan Vogelbach shtick and realized I had no bearings on the idea of fat players in baseball in 2017-18.  Is there ANYbody on SSI that cares about a ballplayer's weight -- beyond what is measured as bad defense and bases lost on the basepaths?  Would be eager to hear if, and why.


It is a good point that Ruth was a football player type.  The Yankees as we know are wearing pinstripes because they were embarrassed about Ruth's body.  That dude was very often 50 lbs. overweight compared to a "cut" athlete.


But like you say, a man can have a very powerful body and can use it lethally despite a 30-lb. overcoat because the body distributes the extra weight so well.  There are "fatties" and there are strong men who don't cut.


I was there for Boog Powell :- ) and believe he was more of the Country Breakfast type Matt was talking about.  He had something of a gut but not so much in comparison to his sawhorse frame.  Earl Weaver On Strategy had some material in there about why he let Boog's weight issue slide.  Earl defended Boog, said Boog got cranky "when he wasn't eating all he wanted" and that Earl would rather have a happy player than a sleek one. 

All the way up to "Moneyball" it was obviously a very high priority to the average scout that a player EXUDE athleticism.  Billy Beane kidded them all through Draft Day -- in the book -- "you clowns are trying to sell blue jeans here.  This is baseball."  Didn't Kruk have some great line like that ...  Drill sargeant line:  "Private, you look like somebody hit a can of biscuits on the counter."

It's interesting too how much the uniformed people NOT on the roster, care about looking in shape so they feel a little less out of the group.  98% of them work out hard core, despite the fact that their playing days are distant memories.


Prince Fielder I'll bet could have dropped close to 100 lbs. at times and he still somehow played at star level.  Everything a person does is harder when he's swaddled in weight like that, but Fielder pushed the limits of what's possible in that range ... LOL.  Jack Zdurienik famously pushed $180M into the table on Prince, at a time when that guy had 60+ lbs to lose or more.  OBP is pretty valuable.

So are scouts in there right now talking 95% less about "bad baseball body" than they were 20 years ago?


As a general rule I've got to come down a bit more toward Native's side here, that the weight is a negative but at 1B/DH the negative tends to recede into the background and become one negative among many.  Vogelbach has some really special HIT ability and sorts out balls/strikes so well that O.B. is mostly looking past the defense and baserunning penalties.

The NFL used to encourage an extra 20-30 lbs. on the offense line, since it adds inertia.  Do you think that somewhere in there, inertia can be a help to a jittery batter?  Perhaps weight helps batters to be less jumpy?  hmmmmmmm  Every overweight hitter we've talked about was a pitch stalker.


From an aiki standpoint ... aikido is a weird martial art, with dojos that far overemphasize their version of "kata" (half-speed demonstrations without serious sparring).  There are all kinds of aikido dojos in Seattle that perform waza as though they were dance steps, and which NEVER hold sparring sessions.  These are called "spiritual" dojos as opposed to the "martial" ones that might actually help a person in self-defense.  Point is, there are any number of aikido senseis, even high-ranking ones in Japan, who are horrible shape physically.  It's a martial art for 70-year-olds.

I personally think that Vogelbach is kind of surprisingly light on his feet, around the bag and certainly in the batter's box.  His weight isn't a decisive factor in my book.  But of course you could find plenty of baseball people who would rather let somebody else worry about Vogelbach's weight.  It doesn't speak well to 'Bach's 30+ age prospects but right now, no issue to me, besides UZR and BsR numbers.  Did I read he had a -35 runs UZR last year?

If there are any Denizens apart from Matty who recoil at overweight position players, go ahead and surprise me :- )  I'd be interested in hearing about it, "His body is his living.  If he can't control his own weight, who needs him."  Not that such is Matt's opinion exactly.


Dr. D



Probably because I mentioned my own weight and called Vigelbach fat while discussing the larger problem.

Being fat isn't a deal breaker to me by itself. Being fat AND uncoordinated I'd a deal breaker. His hand eye coordination is outstanding, but he doesn't know where his feet/legs's often like they have wills of their own. It's...really glaring.

Notably, if Z had landed fielder, it would have been a disaster for the franchise. He washed out within three years, specifically because he got too heavy for his body to withstand the game.

Ruth did have a belly...but I don't so much care about that if he can still get to first in four seconds and catch the fliners in the outfield. Statistically speaking. Ruth was an above average fielder and baserunner well into his career.


[Edit to add:  It's very difficult to maintain muscle and strength while trying to lose weight (fat).]

As someone who has set aside 50 pounds this year and learned a lot about how the body uses energy, I can relate to the idea that for some, it's probably better to keep the weight to keep the strength.  When you cut, you can somewhat maintain strength, but it's very hard to build it at the same time.  I, for example, started to stall out a bit in my lifting (I'm trying to build a foundation that I never really had) while eating at a caloric deficit.  This is expected.  When I started eating at "maintenance" for awhile, my strength improved in the weight room.  The general saying is that you can't build muscle, lose fat, and gain size in a deficit - unless you have supplements that aren't "enhancing".  And, by the way, it is very much possible to build strength, lose fat and get fit in your mid-fifties, probably not for former elite athletes, but certainly so for the average Joe.

In a guy like Vog's case, I would be okay with the weight if it translated to light tower power, which it does not seem to.  With that caveat, I have a little bit of a problem with it.  Of course, it could also be that Vog needs a technique overhaul if he wanted hit for greater power.  If he is going to cover the plate and recognize pitches, then I would urge him to become more fit.

He is in a bit of a catch 22 however because he plays a position that teams look for power from.


Felix.  One time Felix came to camp about 30 pounds lighter and had a terrible year.  He didn't get back to himself until he got his dad body back.  Big Meaty 6'4'' pitchers throw harder and are more durable.  250lb clydesdale Roger Clemens and Curt Shilling types are the stuff that championships are made of. The extra fat helps them regenerate faster or something.  Note that BR lists Clemens and Shilling as 205 lbs each.  BR lies at all times about players' weight.  Those guys would have become ravenous and ate batters if they were 205 lbs.  

220-250 is a sweet spot for pitchers.  They get one level of suspicion for every 15 lb variance from this window.  But, if you throw 98 for 200 innings all is forgiven.

Otherwise, what Matt said.  Being 50 lbs overweight makes you a clogger on the basepaths, an inept fielder and sets you up for rapid decline in your early thirties and increases your injury risk.  Think Bucky Jacobsen.  But, if you slug .800 all is forgiven.  I don't know about giving a 30 year old position player over 230 lbs a flaghship contract though.  Prince Fielder is a little too recent.


There are a few nimble fat guys, but Vogelbach isn't really one of em. I've viewed him mostly as a DH, which is why he had to get out of the National League.  He can play some first base if you need him to, but I wouldn't count on him not hurting you there over 155 games. I don't want to pay for his post-age-30 career, but he's about to turn 25 - there are some years in there if we want em. 

The disconnect between his upper and lower halves that Matt is pointing out is visible at the plate too, which is why he's such an upper body hitter (and partly why he does not display Fielder-esque power). He arm slices singles and doubles pretty easily, and he takes pitches.  He hit his standard .290/.390/.450 again this year, but he will be a base clogger.  He's not a hacker like Jack Cust, though - Bach has a 17% K rate for his career, against a .84 batting eye.

Vogelbach reminds me of a Seth Smith type, who doesn't really wow you at any particular thing (which is why Seth Smith didn't get a real shot in the majors until 26) but who can fill a role.  Like Smith, he is mostly a platoon bat against RHP (because lefties fool him pretty badly) and he can field a position enough to play there without really making you want to bet on him at that position.

Seattle's current 1B of the future is Evan White, who happens to hit righty. Letting Vogelbach play first against tough righty pitchers in 2 years or so while White is available for a late game defensive replacement isn't the worst plan... but I don't know that Seattle likes the kind of player that Bach is.  Which naturally makes me wonder why they traded an arm they could have used for him.  Spending capital (like Mike Montgomery) to acquire pieces that don't fit seems to be a Dipoto special. 

I'm sure Oakland could figure out how to use Vogelbach's future 105, 110 OPS+ in some fashion.


Remember when Doc complained about Mike Hargrove's player template...said slappy singles hitters who draw walks but can't run the bases have very little actual value?

Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Vogelbach is that minus half a second to first base and twenty defensive runs.


The biggest mystery to me is why we traded for him in the first place, he still is what he was when we scouted him.


Vog has been focused on fielding.  DH's don't have to play 1b, just ask Cruz. Let him focus on hitting (somewhere) and just maybe we see more than 105-110 OPS+. 


Doc is right, that there are overweight position players who succeed and who use that weight to their benefit. Power hitters like Ortiz.

I wasn't saying all players with bellies are useless.

Athleticism was the word I emphasized. It is possible to be thin and unathletic, or fat and very athletic. There are sumo wrestlers who are more athletic than an NFL linebacker.

Athleticism isn't just body fat percentage. It's the ability of a person to command their body and make it do sports motions well and with stamina and speed.

Prince Fielder was very athletic until he hit about 30 and started having back problems that crippled his workouts. When I was working for the Yankees, I remember being shocked to find that Fielder's true time to first base was 4.1 seconds...That's faster than average! Faster than every Mariner position player I'm 2013'except Saunders, and a couple of the role players.

Vogelbach is grotesquely unathletic. Not just because he's a beefcake. He has some of the worst body control you'll ever see for a guy with his history of success at this game.


I still don't think he can play first.  It's an athletic thing to me, not a weight thing.  So i agree with Matt.

And since his name was mentioned, now you're going to have to listen to my Boog Powell story.

In the 60's, when the O's were awesome, I was with a couple friends at a White Sox game in Old Comiskey.  The team wasn't going anywhere, but our best starter, Juan Pizarro,was going, so we went out  We had bad seats somewhere in the grandstand and looked out and saw there was absooutely no one in the right field upper deck.  So we decided to go out there and 'take over' the section.  (In those days, they didn't bother closing off any of the really bad seats.)

So we're sitting there all by ourselves and Frank Robinson smashes a line drive up the middle that Pizarro reaches up and tries to catch.  He didn't.  It went over the center field fence, never more than about 18 feet off the ground.  Remember that screamer that Nellie hit out the last week?  Like that...but 430 feet straight away.

So, that was pretty cool and then Boog steps in and hits the highest pop up we'd ever seen, right to second base.  But when we looked down at Nellie Fox waiting to make the catch--he was looking up back towards us. And so was the right fielder.  In fact, the ball was hit DIRECTLY at us--but over our heads, too.  It went out of the park--a mammoth shot.

About five minutes later a couple sportswriters worked their way up to us and asked whether we had heard it hit on top of the roof.  This was important...because as we were well one had ever cleared the roof in right on the fly.

But we were young and innocent and told the truth--and thus lost our 15 minutes of fame when our names did not appear in the sports pages of at least a couple of the Chicago dailies the next morning.  No one else knew whether it bounced or not.

We coulda been contenders...


And a richly info-taining thread beams in out of interstellar space.  +2

I agree of course that Vogelbach is a DH who at best will help out at 1B for roster flexibility.  'S why I liked Zoom's idea that they avoided a black mark on his record in Sept - which would imply the 2018 M's hope to have zero use for a DH :- )


I don't see Vogelbach as "fat."  I see a barrel-chested guy with (comparatively) skinny legs and short little steps.  He's not carrying a fat arse or fleshy thighs. His abbreviated, Thome-esque, follow-through is a result of his barrel-shaped, not long and levery, physique.   He's a big man.  Would bet his dad looked just like him.

He isn't a ballerina, or an Olerud, at 1B, but he can launch it, has a great eye, and sprays the ball to all fields. His career Fld % (including minors) at 1B is .990 and he makes an error every 100 innings.  Valencia (in the bigs) has a 1B Fld % of .993 and makes an error about every 95 innings.

We traded a hugely valuable resource for him.  44 MLB PA's is hardly an adequate look-see.  Alonzo just became a 3x$8M guy, or something like that.  I would prefer we invest that dough elsewhere.  1B types are usually pretty easy to pick up.  I would just as soon we give the gig to Vogs, platoon him if necessary, and bid bigger on Otani, etc.

Over the last two years, Vogs has had vR lines (AAA and MLB combined) of .307-.430-.516 ('16) and .304-.412-.485 ('17).  He's hit 32 homeruns in 864 vR appearances and had 143 BB's vs. 148 K's.  All evidence suggets the guy sort of clubs RHP.  He was terrible vs. LHP this year (.618) but more than passable (.791) last year.  

I know, those are 820 AAA PA's and 44 MLB PA's....but that's my point.  He hasn't had a chance to hit in the bigs.  

Some 5'5 guy hit three moon shots last night for the Astros.  You don't have to look like an Upton of Harper to hit in the bigs.

G said above that he was sure that the Orcs could use Vog's 105-110 OPS bat in some fashion.  Guys, that was Alonzo until this season.  In his three seasons as a mostly fulltime player, he had ISO'ed .120, .99 and .114.  In 2010, at age 23 vs AA/AAA, Alonzo vR'ed .295-.372-.469.  The next season, Vs. AAA/MLB it was .305-.383-.492.

Just sayin' .

Vogs will hit.  I"ll take his 110 next season, which would make him a bat like Segura, Cano or Seager this season. That makes more sense to me than the multi-year contract you're going to give Alonzo.  


This is a scouting call...if you think her is coordinated enough to hit for line drive power in the big leagues and not spike himself repeatedly at first base, I understand the position. To Mr, though, Alonso is Vogelbach both fully realized and without the body control of a bull on ice. That is to say...with some body control instead of none.



an average/solid DH/1B contributor.  There's upside there, obviously, but he's not the kind of guy we can build the club around.

As to the weight issue, I don't think that matters for a player's first go-round the league (before he hits FA).  An overweight athlete is adding an extra source of physiological stress to the puzzle, which is part of why most supreme athletes stay in trimmer shape: they're just trying to knock as many variables off the board so they can maintain their bodies as best they're able.  I don't think it has to do with looks or anything like that as much as trying to add 2-5 years onto the end of the career they've dedicated themselves to pursuing.

So it doesn't worry me if a player is overweight so long as we're not looking to buy that player in FA or acquire him via trade once he's already in his late 20s.  Once he's 28 with a decade of competitive athletics under his size 42 belt, things have a greater potential to start falling apart than they do with a guy who's wearing a size 34.


stats from this year.  Removing his 28 RBI from when he drove himself in (half of which happened in the first ~two months), he had 39 RBI in 493 PA?  I mean...that's slappy leadoff hitter production, isn't it?  Is that anywhere near the record low for a guy who got 90% of his PA's between #2-#6 in the order for two different teams?

Not saying the guy's a bum, or that we wouldn't want him back, but impact MOTO hitter he does not appear to be.

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