The gag about Citi Field Club these days is that New York Mets’ recent acquisition of Daniel Vogelbach has been a slapstick secret. This is because most of the time he was at the base for his new club, he would go for a walk or alone. One look at his shirt size tells you how unreasonable it is.
The gigantic Vogelbach has the dwarf physical build of a slug, if at all. His weight made him a cult hero as he bounced around the major tournaments. With a height of 6 feet and 270 pounds, he was a perfect fit during offensive line training with the New York Jets.
In 2022, Vogelbach represents something much bigger than his uniform: the Mets’ strategy for winning the world championship. Despite having one of the best records in baseball this season, the club has watched the trading deadline come and go without causing much fanfare. However, they made a series of deals based on a clear vision. All Mets are in factions.
Vogelbach and his fellow Mets, Darren Rove and Tyler Naquin, aren’t superstars. All of them are half one. They’re great against lefties or right-wingers, but not both. They are teaming up with existing players on the roster to give manager Buck Showalter, one of the game’s most respected tacticians, the ability to juggle his formations. One of baseball’s most detail-oriented tamers can now put out an elite bat no matter what hand the opposing pitcher throws.
“If you look at their track record and why they were acquired, it’s pretty clear what to expect,” Showalter said of his specialist reinforcements.
Vogelbach, who entered the league as a Seattle Mariner in 2016 and hit 30 people there in 2019, is a stark example. He has a career hitting 135 on average against the left, which isn’t miles away from the numbers posted to the backboard when they actually hit the bat. Unlike falling pitchers, Vogelbach perfectly mashes right-handers. His hit on base as well as his hit against the right this season is the 11th best in baseball among players who have appeared in at least 200 games.
Recently, the team acquired Rove from the San Francisco Giants, and the best way to understand Rove is that he is anti-Vogelbach. Rove performed as one of baseball’s top hitters throughout his career against the Southpaws, despite his poor performance against the right-wingers.
Along with Naquin, a defensive player picked up by the Mets from Cincinnati, these are the types of players who would fit neatly into a club with a manager known for clever maneuvering. The Mets’ strongest squad, which will always include the likes of Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor, is now partly linked to their opponent on the hill.
But none of these platoon players have fed themselves to fans at Citi Field as quickly as Vogelbach — and not only because he could easily pass for another hot dog fan in the stands.
In his nine games with the Mets entering Thursday, he’s been hitting 0.308 and has safely made it to the base a whopping 47% of the time. He cemented his crowd favorite status with one of the four Grand Slams this week, a swat who proved to be the difference in victory over the Washington Nationals.
For a Mets fans of a certain age, this is a welcome sight. In seasons such as 1969 and 1986, the club relied heavily on factions and players sharing positions. Those also happened to be the two years that the Mets won the World Championship.
Write to Andrew Beaton at firstname.lastname@example.org and Joshua Robinson at Joshua.Robinson@wsj.com
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