Offseason Homework Assignments - Stephen Vogt

Thearon W. Henderson

This week we look at the last portion of the A’s three-headed catching monster – Stephen Vogt.

In a move that didn't get much attention, Oakland traded for Stephen Vogt last April. Vogt turned out to be a valuable contributor to the 2013 season (and Game 2 of the ALDS). Let's look at his 2013 in detail and forecast for 2014.

By the numbers

G

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BB%

K%

ISO

BABIP

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

BsR

Off

Def

WAR

47

148

4

18

16

0

6.10%

18.90%

0.148

0.286

0.252

0.295

0.400

0.301

90

-0.5

-2.2

2.1

0.5

The ISO isn't bad, but the OBP really hurts his value. It is interesting Vogt's BB% is so low because he had a respectable 4.05 P/PA (that would have tied him for 17th in the league had he qualified). One problem may his plate discipline, which Brooks Baseball rates from poor to exceptionally poor. Plate discipline numbers don't correlate strongly to hitting performance, but it could be something Vogt could look into.

In a limited sample size, Vogt looks to be able to use 2/3rds of the field, which is pretty good.


Pull

Center

Opposite

AB

47

32

30

wOBA

0.494

0.313

0.161

Of course, Vogt looks to be in a platoon with Derek Norris, which should play to his strengths.


vs. LHP

vs. RHP

PA

18

130

wOBA

0.286

0.303

Vogt performed much better on the road last year. His wOBA at the Coliseum was .253 vs. .370 on the road. Some of that may just be how the ball bounced, as his BABIP was .183 at home vs. .422 on the road.

That's about it. There is only so much you can glean from 150 PA and I have no clue how to evaluate catchers' defensive metrics.

Areas for improvement

Get on base!

Even only looking at his RHP split, Vogt only got on base at a .305 clip. Part of that is Vogt simply didn't draw a lot of walks. He showed decent ability to draw walks in his last two years in the minors (11.2% in 2013, 10.6% in 2012), so maybe that will come out a little more once he sees more big league pitching.

Breaking balls

I have recently discovered Brooks Baseball and I gotta say I love it! One of the neat things is you can see how hitters do against categories of pitches. Vogt really struggled against breaking stuff. Not a big surprise for a rookie catcher.

Pitch Category

Count

AB

K

BB

HBP

1B

2B

3B

HR

BAA

SLG

ISO

BABIP

Hard

421

77

14

7

0

13

3

0

3

0.247

0.403

0.156

0.267

Breaking

142

44

17

0

0

5

1

1

0

0.159

0.227

0.068

0.259

Offspeed

69

16

1

0

0

5

1

0

0

0.375

0.438

0.063

0.4

That's about it. We will need a few more at-bats to see any more consistent trends.

Swing Analysis

Fortunately I was able to gather enough video on Vogt to evaluate his swing. Below is his first career home run.

http://eastbayhittinginstruction.com/Vogt_Front.gif

Here is a swing from the side. If you can count really fast, you can see Vogt has a five-frame swing. So that's good.

http://eastbayhittinginstruction.com/Vogt_side.gif

In very technical terms: not bad. Good stride, good rear arm function. A place I see room for improvement is the front side, specifically the front leg (interestingly, Oakland's other catcher needs help with his front shoulder). See how at contact Vogt's front leg hasn't quite pulled down his belt buckle to be parallel with the ground? (Click the image to blow it up.) A small problem, but as Crash Davis taught us, small things can make a career.

Sw1_front-0

I am working on a theory that front side mechanics are important to being able to hit the same side split. For example, Donaldson and Reddick have good front side mechanics and can hit the same side split, Norris has poor front side mechanics and cannot. Vogt might fall into this (though I wouldn't say his front side mechanics are that bad), but until I prove my theory I guess his front side mechanics will just be something to watch.

Projection

So if you read my projection on Norris, you know I want him to get 2/3rds of the catcher PA. So that doesn't leave many for Vogt. It really is unfortunate Jaso isn't expected to see much time behind the plate, because he could handle the other third and DH against RHP. I am not intending this as a knock on Vogt, it's just that scenario would free a roster spot for a more pressing need. Even as it stands, I still could see Norris getting 2/3rds of the PA and Vogt getting some time at first or DH against LHP. Remember, I am taking an ABC philosophy (Anyone But Crisp) when it comes to the LHP lineup- just having a little fun here BWH. If nothing else it would give me data for my theory - obviously the most important thing in building a lineup.

But my projection on Norris is contingent on him somehow fixing his swing, which probably isn't going to happen (I got nothing from him in my email inbox all offseason). So that probably means about 300 PA for Vogt. I am pretty much in line with Steamer on my prediction: basically the same as 2013 with a slightly better BB%. I will go .257/.315/.400 with 9 HR.

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