Vog-All-Star: Mariners’ Daniel Vogelbach going to the All-Star Game
HOUSTON – He may not get to hit Vogelbombs in the Home Run Derby, but Mariners slugger Daniel Vogelbach found out Sunday morning at Minute Maid Park that he is a Vog-All-Star.
Vogelbach was told by his manager in the Mariners’ pregame hitters meeting that he had been selected as Seattle’s representative in the All-Star Game to be played July 9 at Cleveland’s Progressive Field.
“I’m kind of speechless,” said Vogelbach outside of the Mariners’ clubhouse minutes after teammates could be heard cheering the announcement. “There are multiple guys in that room that could have deserved it and did deserve it and I think unfortunately we only got one. I am just humbled and thankful that I get to represent the Mariners.”
Vogelbach, the lone All-Star representative for the Mariners in 2019, leads the team with 20 home runs. In a down year for the Mariners he is one of a few logical candidates, and not only because his numbers are tops on the team. Vogelbach is among the league leaders in numerous offensive categories including wRC+ where he trails only Cleveland’s Carlos Santana, Houston’s Alex Bregman and the Angels’ Mike Trout – all who will be his teammates on the AL All-Star squad.
“It’s been a really fun first half,” said Vogelbach. “Obviously we would like more wins but the group of guys in the clubhouse has made this year unbelievable. For my first full year really in the big leagues to be selected as an All-Star, I’m just grateful.”
There is still a chance for Vogelbach to compete in the Home Run Derby, but he has yet to get an invite even though there has been a push with the Twitter hashtag #Vogey4HRDerby. As of Sunday afternoon there were just two open spots for the derby left, with Santana, Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich, Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell, Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso all confirmed and Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr. reported to have agreed to join the field.
While it is unlikely he would ever admit it – Vogelbach is always very ‘team-first’ with his comments – if Vogelbach did take a measure of satisfaction in the All-Star nod after spending three years at the Triple-A level (where he averaged a slash line of .291/.411/.496), it would be hard to fault him for it. Vogelbach opted instead to take a lesson from that extended stay in the minors, which included five up-and-backs to the Mariners in 2018 alone.
“I think that it really makes you realize that you have to keep pushing,” he said. “There were a lot of questions last year and the year before – are you ever going to get an opportunity, are you going to get a chance? I tried to stay as positive as I can and continue to perform at whatever level I’m at and believe that I’m going to get an opportunity and just keep pushing. And when you get your opportunity try to make full advantage of it.”
This year was to be Vogelbach’s year one way or another. Out of minor league options, he could not be sent down without first clearing waivers. It was a foregone conclusion that he would make the Opening Day roster because the Mariners did want to see how his bat played at the Major League level, but even then there were obstacles to playing time with Edwin Encarnación and Jay Bruce on the roster. In an effort to keep him from becoming discouraged with a lack of playing time, manager Scott Servais sat Vogelbach down and told him to stay ready because his time would come.
“Any time you get told you are going to get an opportunity and they are going to buy into you and let you go through your ups and downs, that’s all you can ask for in life is a chance,” said Vogelbach. “What you do with your chance is up to you. There’s been some ups, there have been some downs this year. I am trying to stay as even-keel as possible knowing the ups and downs are going to happen and trying to prove them right for giving me the opportunity.”
Now Vogelbach will get to enjoy a moment most players, let alone non-rookies with fewer than 400 at-bats, do not. To get to spend three days among the game’s elite should be an eye-opening experience for Vogelbach. It is something he has yet to allow himself to think about as there is still work to be done.
“It is a credit to the guys around me and the coaches for just helping me as much as possible,” he said. “I don’t think it has sunk in yet, I don’t think it really will until I am there. It’s good to be announced today but we have got plenty of games left before the All Star break and you have to stay as focused as you can.”