There is some uncertainty about the catching platoon among fans of the Oakland Athletics and while Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley, for the most part, have the jobs all wrapped up, questions and the possible expectations still arise.
A’s fans have chanted our beliefs of Vogt for a year now, but what do we really expect out of him? Do we expect the hot-hitting Vogt from last season to carry over into this year? Some may not, but on the other hand, many do.
There was a span of games in June and July where Vogt could have been launching grapes with a stick if he’d wanted to, but as is shown by his pre- and post-All-Star numbers (.358/.388/.532 before the break and .225/.275/.363 after), reality settled in. Going from scalding hot to freezing cold isn’t an abnormal feat and most the times a hot-streak seems to be followed by an even colder streak.
All that aside, Vogt still had a respectable .279/.321/.431 triple slash, all career highs, according to Baseball Reference. And his stats weren’t boosted by a ridiculous batting average on balls in play; he actually only had a .297 BABIP which, according to FanGraphs, is right around the .300 average they’ve come to expect.
With John Jaso out of the lineup, you can expect the left-handed-batting Vogt to get more than 300 at-bats for the first time in his career and while he may not hit almost .280, you can probably expect him to settle in around .265, which is the middle ground of his first two big league season averages (.252 in his first season).
The real question many A’s fans have is what to expect out of newcomer Phegley who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the Jeff Samardzija trade. Phegley was a first-round draft pick of the White Sox in 2009 and has only seen 241 career MLB at-bats.
Expecting Phegley to come in and replace All-Star Derek Norris isn’t ideal, but he’s shown power in AAA, hitting 15 home runs in 61 games in 2013 and 23 jacks in 107 games in 2014 (BR), and he’s shown the ability to get on base. (insert Billy Beane face here.)
His lowest OBP of any particular season was .277 in A ball in 2009 and in 292 games at AAA (spanning 2011-14) he’s had an OBP of .330 (BR). At 27 years-old, and under contract until 2021, Phegley has a chance to be a staple for the Athletics for years to come even with the platoon in effect.
In 56 at-bats against left-handed pitchers in the bigs, Phegley has produced a .250/.246/.482 slash. With only a couple hundred at-bats to look at, my prediction for Phegley will mostly be on a whim, but I do expect him to bat around .250 and if his patience at AAA can convert to the majors, I could easily see him with an above-.300 OBP. I also predict that with a couple hundred plate appearances Phegley could potentially do some damage and knock around 15 balls over the fence.
While not exactly one of the shining spots of the Oakland lineup, the catcher position could turn out to yield plenty of pop and solid production.