Fresh off the World Cup last summer and American soccer fans chanting “I believe, I believe, I believe that we can win,” the faithful A’s fans in the right field bleachers at O.co Coliseum in Oakland borrowed the chant to show their love for one of the most popular A’s, Stephen Vogt. Now, multiple times at every home game, the now-familiar refrain blasts through the chilly Oakland night: “I believe in Stephen Vogt.”
The belief is spreading through the entire American League early in this season.
Vogt, 30, is now the A’s regular catcher, and his start to the new season has been fiery hot, both behind the plate and at the plate. Heading into Saturday night’s game, Vogt was batting .337, 9th best in the AL, and his 30 RBI tied him for the top spot with the Seattle Mariners Nelson Cruz.
Among catchers, the toughest fielding position in the lineup, Vogt tops all major leaguers in batting average, home runs, RBI and OPS.
Vogt has also been masterful behind the plate, starting 75 percent of the team’s games behind the plate, busting Bob Melvin’s original plan of a shared platoon, and managing a pitching staff full of new teammates.
Not bad for a player who only got his first real shot at the major leagues two years ago at the age of 28.
In 2012, Vogt got a taste of the majors with 18 rather non-descript games with Tampa Bay. After entering the A’s organization through the minors the next season, he was called up in June and showed he could be a contributor. Vogt didn’t make the club out of Spring Training last year, but was called up early and showed versatility while playing catcher, first base, outfield and chipping in as a designated hitter.
His played earned the confidence of Melvin and general manager Billy Beane, so much so that the A’s felt comfortable enough to trade all-star catcher Derek Norris to the San Diego Padres over the winter.
Vogt’s hot start has validated the team’s decision, at least thus far. “I’ve typically always been a slow starter as far as seasons go,” Vogt told Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com. “It feels good to be starting off pretty well. I don’t really know why there’s been more power, but I feel good at the plate. And with this lineup we have, I’m going to get pitches to hit.”
While Vogt has been a pleasant surprise, the A’s will need to get more help from the rest of the roster, particularly the bullpen. Going into the weekend, the A’s sported the worst record in the major leagues at 13-24, 10.5 games back of the AL West-leading Houston Astros already.
Photo Credit: Paul Sancya/Associated Press
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