Dan Vogelbach's Huge Makeup and Shrinking Waistline

Dan Vogelbach's Huge Makeup and Shrinking Waistline

It's incredibly hard to not love Dan Vogelbach.

After he was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, the large high schooler with tremendous power became an instant favorite amongst Cubs fans. After all, who doesn't love overweight athletes? Bartolo Colon pictures are all over twitter, Fat Guy Touchdowns are among the best things to happen on a football field, and Matt Stairs was a fan favorite everywhere he went.

Because it took a season and a half for fans to get their first real glimpses of Vogelbach on the field, he remained an unknown quantity. There'd be the occasional grainy video or out-of-focus picture, but for the most part, fans got their Dan Vogelbach information in the form of folk-tales from dusty ballparks hundred of miles to the west. A man in Idaho could whisper "Vogs just crushed one" and it spread through the Cubs fanbase like wildfire.

For some, these stories built Vogelbach up to be one of the premier hitting prospects in all of the minors, and they ended up disappointed when he was merely good in his full season debut. For me though, actually seeing Vogelbach play ball impressed me more than a thousand videos of home runs from Idaho ever could.

Dan Vogelbach cares about winning with an intensity that is rare among Midwest League ballplayers.

When things weren't going well, Vogelbach couldn't hide his frustration in himself. Often after a really bad trip to the plate, Vogelbach was still visibly cussing himself out as the infield warmed up for the next inning. For some players this could be a sign of poor makeup*, but Vogelbach always bounced back by his next trip to the plate, bringing an adjusted approach into the box with him.

In one game last season I saw him take two really poor plate appearances to start his game. He was swinging early in counts at pitcher's pitches on the outer third, getting behind, and he popped up to end one at bat and weakly chopped one back to the pitcher to end the second. He was clearly trying to crush both of those pitches over the fence in right. Its rare to see a player as upset with themselves as he was after the second at bat, and he was talking to himself in the field until the inning ended.

On his next trip to the plate, he took a pitch or two and then roped an outer third fastball into the left-center field gap.

He was by far the easiest player to root for in the league. He was constantly trying to max out his limited athleticism, running hard out of the box on all batted balls - he took more extra bases on liners to the outfield than any man his size has any business taking. His makeup was/is just fantastic.

And if anyone who saw him last year needed more proof of Dan Vogelbach's excellent makeup, he's already provided it this spring by showing up to camp (another) 30 something pounds lighter. Take a look at this picture from Gordon Wittenmyer:

I couldn't have guessed that was Dan Vogelbach if you had given me fifteen guesses at who that is.

That is the look of a player who cares about winning. That is the look of a player who knows his faults, knows what it takes to make it as a professional athlete, and has the mental strength to actually pull it off. With the kind of makeup he has, he's erased any doubt that he do all that is within his power to make the show.

Is he losing power with the lost weight? Almost certainly not, but if he is, can you look at that picture and honestly think he wont bust his ass in the gym to put the necessary muscle on? Is his footwork around the bag at first still atrocious? Yeah, yeah it is, but footwork is a thing that can be improved by endless repetition and desire to improve, which he has clearly shown. (Side note: he's not a left fielder, no matter how much work he put into it)

Dan Vogelbach's game has its warts, and he will be limited by his body for his whole career, but its a little bit easier to dream on a guy with the kind of drive that he's shown in his three years with the Cubs organization.

*Because hitting is a game of overwhelming failure, only occasionally interrupted by hard-won success, the desire to win more often manifests itself through frustration at losing than through celebration. Its tough to tell which players are using that frustration to fuel themselves, and which carry that frustration as weight that hurts them later in the game/series/season. Carlos Zambrano, for example, was a player who drifted into the latter category.


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  • Great stuff Tommy. It's easy to forget these days of advanced metrics, info. makeup still looms large.

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    Good stuff yet again. Bruce Levine has been flying the "LF is the NL's DH" flag for quite some time as it relates to Vogelbach, which I have found laughable. I've not gotten the chance to see him play, but the kid's attitude is impressive from what little I know of him.

  • I am so 'all in' on Vogelbach, the kid has got to make it. You just can't fake the mental approach, the dedication, determination and downright love for the game that Dan has shown as a member of the Cubs organization. He is truly working his ass off and willing to do what it takes to play big league ball. I'd be shocked that once he makes it up he rests on his laurels and figures his work is done as we;ve all seen more than once with rookies getting their chance, maximizing the effort, landing on the 25 man then year 2 it's on cruise control. Obviously I don't know Vogelbach but with all the good we;ve heard, he just dosen't strike me that way. A kid like that could own Wrigley, Mr. blue collar, lunch bucket totin', I'll do whatever you want to help us win type of guy. He gets my vote.

  • Better than Matt Stairs, I'm thinking John Kruk. A little older reference but physically, they look more similar. I think Stairs is taller. However, I'm hoping Vogelbach can hit for average like Kruk with the power of Stairs!

  • We need Vogelbach to max out his potential. So that we can trade him to an AL club for a high-end talent, almost certainly a pitcher. He's a DH in waiting, not an NL player. I love him too, but not as a core Cub on our consistently great teams to come. You don't want to think of him as an alternative to Rizzo either. We really need Rizzo to settle in as a solid starting 1B. Rizzo fields the position well. He runs well for a 1B. Those things are important. I'm greedy. I want good hitters and athletes everywhere on the diamond for us. I also want Vogie to have a good big-league career. Elsewhere. After we've turned him into a good player who fits our club better. This year is so pivotal for the Cubs org. We need every key youngster to raise his stock, keepers and trade pieces alike.

  • In reply to michaelc:

    Well said and I have the same hopes. However, I am in the camp (small) that is not sold on Rizzo as a can't miss. Don't trade Vogelbach too early!

  • In reply to mrs howell:

    Vogelbach won't be MLB ready for another two years. By then we'll know much better what we have with Rizzo. The timing should work out very well for us at 1B.

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