Breaking Down Stephen Vogt’s Nightmare to Begin His Career

By Robbie Knopf

It must have been so exciting for Stephen Vogt to make the Rays’ Opening Day roster. The events since have been a nightmare for Vogt. He has gone 0 for 13 to begin his career, the worst “O’fer” to begin a career by a Ray, breaking Jeff Niemann‘s 0 for 12 mark. Obviously Vogt is a whole lot better than his current .000/.000/.000 line, but what the heck has happened?

As you may have guessed, Vogt has .000 BAbip thus far in his MLB career. He has struck out just twice, but putting the ball into play has done no good for him. The reason for that is that he hasn’t hit the ball hard. According to Baseball-Reference, Vogt has hit 6 flyballs to the outfield, 3 infield pop-ups, and 2 groundballs. He did not hit a single line drive. Using the MLB BAbip by batted ball type, we can come up with Vogt’s expected number of hits based on those batted ball types. In 2011, MLB players have posted a .220 BAbip on groundballs, a .257 BAbip on flyballs to the outfield, a .000 BAbip on infield pop-ups (if one dropped, it would be an error), and a .694 BAbip on line drives. Multiplying Vogt’s batted ball outcomes by the probability of a hit for each type yields a value of 1.982 expected hits. Dividing that by the number of batted balls gives Vogt a .180 expected BAbip and a .152 expected batting average. Even though that would be an improvement, that is not what we want to see by any stretch.

Watching Vogt in spring training, it seemed like he’s a player who gets his power through uppercut in his swing rather than great bat speed. At Triple-A Durham in 2011, he posted just a 17.3% line drive percentage among his batted balls compared to the 19.5% league average according to Minor League Central. It’s definitely a fluke that Vogt has not hit a single line drive yet, but he’s never going to be a player who’s going to hit a lot of line drives and hit for a nice average.

Vogt is a very likable guy and a nice story. But we can’t overestimate his ability, as I talked about previously. What has happened so far is extreme. But Vogt’s upside is likely just a power bat off the bench. Vogt may get sent down to the minor leagues with B.J. Upton coming back on Friday and he still may not have a hit on his resume. Hopefully Vogt’s luck can improve and he can break this slide to begin his MLB career. Just don’t expect too much from him moving forward.