What, was it too early to tally Vogts? Stephen Vogt gained a reputation as a strong hitter in the minor leagues, posting a .299/.360/.448 line in 521 career minor league games, including .277/.339/.448 in 125 Triple-A games. But in the majors this season, Stephen Vogt could not buy a hit. In 27 big league plate appearances, Vogt went 0 for 25 with 2 walks. He made contact, striking out just twice, but could not hit the ball with any authority, managing just a 9% line drive rate. He put the ball into play weakly in the air and couldn’t get a groundball to go through the hole. The closest he came to a hit may have been his last at-bat of the season, where he hustled out an infield groundball only to be called out in a close play at first base. It was sad watching Vogt’s frustration after making out after out, and you have to feel for him as he enters the offseason still without his first big league hit.
What happened? Vogt got tentative and overaggressive. He couldn’t hit anything hard because he didn’t wait long enough to find a pitch to hit. He managed 3-ball counts in just 4 of his 27 plate appearances and wasn’t ahead 3-0 a single time. He put the ball in play a ton, but he seemed to get under everything and hit routine flyball after routine flyball. He sold out for power as he tried to end his frustration with one swing. But he never ran into the hanging breaking ball he was waiting for to deposit in the seats. I said back in spring training after seeing Vogt that he struggles with pitches that are located well. In the major leagues, pitchers locate their pitches well far more often than anywhere else, and Vogt failed to take and foul off enough pitches to finally get a mistake.
Stephen Vogt is never going to be a star. But he’s a lot better than this. There’s a reason that the Rays elected to keep Vogt on the roster as the 25th man to begin the season and a reason they brought him back in September. He has the ability to be a good bench player thanks to his power, his ability to put the ball into play, and his versatility to play catcher, left field, and first base. And Vogt has begun to adjust. At Triple-A this season, Vogt’s walk rate was the highest of his career, and he drew 2 walks in September after not drawing a single one when he was up in April. Stephen Vogt is going to do everything he can to succeed. This is not the way his story ends. The Rays believe in Stephen Vogt. Even if this year was not his year, Vogt will get ample opportunity to justify the Rays’ belief in him, and he will find a way to deliver.