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2020 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews #31: Stephen Vogt

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While Vogt’s offense suffered in 2020, his defense improved

Seattle Mariners v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images
  • Rating: 3.88
  • Age: 36
  • 2020 Stats: .167/.247/.278 = .525 OPS, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 41 OPS+, -0.1 bWAR
  • 2020 Salary: $2.5 million
  • 2021 Status: Option automatically vested, salary = $3.5 million

Introduction

After losing a good chunk of 2018 thanks to shoulder surgery, Stephen Vogt recovered in 2019, hitting .263/.314/.490 with 10 HRs for the Giants. Having proven that he was healthy and could hit again, Vogt signed with Arizona in November of 2019 to a $3m one year deal for 2020, with a vesting option for 2021, which would be triggered based on the number of games he either played or started.

The 2020 Season

Vogt struggled at the plate in 2020, hitting just .167/.247/.248 with one HR (video below) in 72 at bats. Some of his struggles at the plate were due to luck. Consider his .274 career BABIP, and that he was coming off a career high .311 BABIP in 2019, and Vogt’s 2020 BABIP of .204 looks especially unlucky. He also failed to get enough playing time to hit any of the plate appearance milestones which would have triggered performance bonuses, adding to his 2020 salary.

It wasn’t all bad for Vogt though. While there weren’t a lot of bright spots offensively, his walk% improved from 7.1% to 9.9% and his strikeout% actually went down from 23.6% to 22.2%. On defense however, Vogt made some real improvements. His DEF improved from -2.8 to +2.6, an overall improvement of +5.4. His DRS improved from -4 to +2, his pitch framing (FRM) improved from -4.0 to a +1.3. Even factoring in his poor offense and OPS+ of 41, Vogt was only worth -0.1 WAR.

Looking Forward to 2021

Thanks to the pandemic lowering the milestones needed for his option to vest, Vogt’s option was automatically triggered. Pro-rated down to 60 games, he needed to make 17 starts, and actually reached 20 as a catcher, plus one at DH. As a result, he will be with AZ in 2021, and the vesting means he gets a $500K bump in his salary next season. With his improved defense, if Vogt can rebound to anywhere close to his career averages in 2021, he could be a valuable component of the 2021 Diamondbacks.

His role will likely be the same as it was this year, as a back-up to primary catcher Carson Kelly. With Vogt being a left-handed hitter, that allows for platoon potential, and over his career, he has an OPS which is 161 higher against RHP. With Kelly hitting 183 OPS points lower there, we can expect Vogt to get most of his playing time when the opposition send up a right-hander. This year, 20 of his 21 starts came in that situation (the exception was against the Mariners’ Yusei Kikuchi on September 11), and there’s no reason to expect anything different in 2021.