Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: Catcher Stephen Vogt

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Mar 26, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt (21) talks with Kansas City Royals shortstop Christian Colon (24) during the fifth inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt (21) talks with Kansas City Royals shortstop Christian Colon (24) during the fifth inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: Catcher Stephen Vogt, whom we all believe in

Stephen Vogt, the funniest impersonator in all of baseball. His range spans from NBA referees to Chris Farley. The Oakland Athletics catcher is known for impersonating his coaches, too: he won a talent show as a minor league player with Tampa Bay in 2009.

His range on the baseball side spans from catcher to first base to designated hitter. As recently as 2014, he was found in the outfield as well. He’s baseball’s equivalent of George Clooney: he can take on any significant role, and he’ll look good doing it, too. Not to mention, Vogt was one of the Athletics’ two All-Stars last year.

As is well-known now, his 2015 story is a tale of two halves:

On June 30, Vogt was batting .300/.392/.917 and had already hit 13 home runs. But from July 1 to the end of the season, he hit .215/.274/.346. He suddenly looked like a 31-year-old catcher who had never played a full season in the majors. That’s exactly where he was at from July forwards.

His story is also a tale of two sides: against right handers, he had an on-base percentage plus slugging of .832, hitting 17 home runs in 388 plate appearances. Against lefties, he lost nearly all his power – hitting for an OPS of .631 and only making one round-tripper. Instead, A’s fans will see Josh Phegley, the A’s backup catcher, when the A’s face a southpaw.

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Granted, in Spring Training, Vogt has been fantastic: .281/.361/.924 in 32 at-bats, with only one strikeout and four walks. But those numbers aren’t at all like his numbers during the regular season. Plus he has been battling through his elbow rehabilitation the entire month; he had surgery in January and is still expected to play on Opening Day. He played in yesterday’s game for the majority of the game behind the dish, taking a few nasty foul balls to his body. He also had a triple in the top of the seventh inning, scoring Billy Butler (of all people). He hit that ball to AT&T Park’s deep-right center field, a place where most other parks have fans seated to catch home runs. Most impressively, he did so against a hard-throwing left-hander, Josh Osich.

It’s safe to say he will be ready for next week.

It is easy to say that we all believe in Stephen Vogt and his ability to pull through, beyond injury and bad second halves. Vogt has an uncanny tendency to make an immediate impact in his first few games when he plays. We discussed his two halves last year. In 2014, through his first 44 games, he was hitting .361/.387/.544, but regressed to a .279/.321/.431 average through the rest of the year. Fangraphs writer Jeff Zimmerman concluded that his lack of success in the second half of 2015 came from pitchers beginning to attack him in the zone throughout the second half. But hey, it’s a new year, and opposing pitchers may also believe enough in Stephen Vogt to pitch around him again.

Bold Prediction: Stephen Vogt has another All-Star-caliber first half but will end with a .270 average, 20 home runs, 75 RBI, and will play no more than half the season at catcher, taking the rest at first base, left field, or designated hitter.

Next: A's Five Biggest Surprises of Spring Training

Will Stephen Vogt have another breakthrough year, or will he regress to his overall 2015 statistics? Write a comment below!

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