Entering the 2021 season the first base position for the Brewers was supposed to belong to Keston Hiura, with Daniel Vogelbach serving in a pinch hitter role. Unfortunately, Hiura has struggled and has been optioned to the minor leagues for a second time this season.
Vogelbach on the other hand is looking to take advantage of this opportunity. With teammate Travis Shaw on the 60 day injured list and Billy McKinney no longer a Brewer, there is not a ton of additional competition at first base.
At first glance, Daniel Vogelbach may not strike you as the ideal first base candidate for the Brewers.
Fortunately in the playing time he has received so far this season he has been more than adequate, especially at the plate.
On the season Vogelbach has a .222 batting average, .341 OBP, .758 OPS, and 108 OPS+. Of his 32 hits in 144 at bats, 14 have gone for extra bases. This is composed of seven doubles and seven home runs.
More impressive is the 26 walks on the season Vogelbach has. He’s drawing walks on 16% of his at bats, which is good enough for the 97th percentile in MLB. Additionally, he is ranked in the 95th percentile in chase rate and 81st in whiff percentage.
Historically, swinging and missing had been a knock on his game, but this year is different. He is not only seeing the ball extremely well but he is making contact on pitches that are inside of the zone and extending at bats.
Contact in this regard doesn’t only refer to base hits. Rather it’s fouling off tough pitches, being a pesky hitter, and consistently giving a tough AB to opposing pitchers. This is the type of hitter you want in your lineup.
Take this last weekend against the Pirates for example. In that three game span, Vogelbach himself saw 72 pitches in 13 at bats. That’s 5.5 pitches per at-bat and four of those appearances ended in a base on balls.
If you go back even further to May 30th, since that date Vogelbach has started nine games for the Brewers. He has reached base in all nine of those games that includes eight walks, eight hits, and three home runs. It is unclear if Vogelbach can remain this patient at the plate, continually increase the opposing pitchers pitch count, and consistently reach base.
One thing we do know is that Vogelbach is currently the primary option at first base and is going to continue to get playing time. I suggest you buckle up and enjoy the theatrics that Daniel Vogelbach provides on a day to day basis.