HOUSTON -- Daniel Vogelbach came into the season just hoping to play as many games as possible for the Mariners so he might finally show what he could do. Turns out, the burly slugger will play in one more game than expected as he was selected as Seattle’s lone representative
HOUSTON -- Daniel Vogelbach came into the season just hoping to play as many games as possible for the Mariners so he might finally show what he could do. Turns out, the burly slugger will play in one more game than expected as he was selected as Seattle’s lone representative for the American League squad in the 2019 All-Star Game lineup, announced Sunday.
• 2019 All-Star Game, presented by Mastercard: July 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX
The 26-year-old first baseman/designated hitter had hit just .197 with four home runs in 61 games over three prior sporadic seasons, with most of his time spent at Triple-A Tacoma after being acquired from the Cubs in 2016.
But the Mariners let veteran DH Nelson Cruz depart in free agency over the winter with the idea of letting Vogelbach finally get his chance, and the youngster has grabbed hold of that opportunity by hitting 20 home runs with a .244/.379/.519 slash line, combining power with an excellent batting eye that has helped him draw 56 walks and put up the best on-base percentage and OPS of any AL designated hitter.
“I’m kind of speechless,” said Vogelbach of his selection. “There are multiple guys in that room that deserved it. I’m just humbled and thankful that I get to represent the Mariners. It’s been a really fun first half. Obviously wins and losses, we’d like more wins. But the group of guys in the clubhouse has made this year unbelievable. For my first full year in the big leagues, to be selected as an All-Star, I’m just really grateful.”
In addition to letting Cruz go, the Mariners also traded former All-Stars Robinson Cano, Jean Segura and Edwin Diaz in the offseason, but Vogelbach has stepped up as one of the leaders of the next wave.
Even with Cruz’s departure, Seattle manager Scott Servais acknowledged the initial plan was to give veterans Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce a lot of playing time early in the season, but he told Vogelbach to be patient and he’d wind up with 350-400 at-bats by the end of the year.
But when Encarnacion hurt his wrist the second week of the season, Vogelbach jumped on his chance to play on a more regular basis and he hasn’t looked back. With Encarnacion and Bruce now traded, the 6-foot, 250-pounder is now playing nearly every day at either DH or first base and producing big numbers.
“He’s earned it,” Servais said. “I’m happy with Vogey. He’s taken on a voice in our clubhouse. It’s a welcome voice. Vogey loves baseball, he really does. He likes talking about it, is a good teammate, he comes with energy every night. He’s been fun to watch.”
The Mariners would love to let the rest of the baseball world watch Vogelbach in the Home Run Derby but he’s yet to hear from anybody regarding that selection process, which will be finalized on Wednesday.
“I’ve said that I would do it, but you can’t do it unless you’re invited,” Vogelbach said.
Regardless, he’s thrilled to get an invitation to the big dance and will now head to Cleveland for All-Star Weekend festivities from July 8-10 instead of spending time in Seattle with his family, who had already planned to fly in from Florida during the break.
He is just the 11th Mariner player to hit 20 home runs prior to the All-Star break and the fourth -- along with Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Alex Rodriguez -- to have both 20 homers and 50-plus walks in that span.
“It just really makes you realize you just have to keep pushing,” he said. “There were a lot of questions last year about whether I’d ever get an opportunity or a chance. I just tried to stay as positive as I can and just continue to perform at whatever level I’m at and believe I’m going to get an opportunity.
“And when you get that opportunity, take full advantage of it. It’s a credit to the guys around me and the coaches for just helping me as much as possible. This is a great honor. I’m just going to enjoy it. But there’s a lot of baseball still to be played and I want to finish the first half strong.”
The 2019 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard will be played on Tuesday, July 9, at Progressive Field in Cleveland. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.