All-Star. World Series Champion. Hall-of-Famer. Baseball players have a few ways to separate themselves from the ranks of the already prestigious title of “Major Leaguer.”
Stephen Vogt has done just that. He has established himself as one of the game’s elite, among the top players in one of its toughest and most revered positions.
After spending parts of eight seasons in the minor leagues, the Oakland Athletics catcher was selected for his first Major League Baseball All-Star team in 2015, his fourth tour in the bigs. One year after experiencing the career affirming milestone, the 32-year-old backstop has come back for a second helping.
The journey to the top is not lost on the Visalia product, as he told SFBay:
“Given where (I’ve been) over the past six or seven years, it’s very rewarding to be here. I’ve worked my whole life to get to this point, and it’s great to be rewarded in this way.”
Of his service as the lone representative from one of the game’s most storied franchises, Vogt said:
“It’s super special. I’m blown away to be here — honored to be here. It’s a lot of fun to represent the A’s here.”
His nod last year was based heavily on an incredibly productive first half. Posting a .287 average with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs, Vogt was among the AL’s most effective bats, much less catchers. He did admit prior to the 2016 Opening Day, however, that he was not pleased with his defensive showing.
He brings modest offensive numbers in 2016 — slashing .277/.320/.442 with seven homers and 27 RBIs — but his improved defense and work with a young pitching staff, he feels, garnered the attention of American League Manager Ned Yost:
“Last year, I had a great year. This year, I’m not matching that, but still I’m recognized as an All-Star — it’s kind of a more overall package, rather than just offensive numbers, so it’s just really cool.”
Not only has Vogt’s play — and the way he carries himself off the field — caught the attention of Yost and the AL’s coaches, it’s caught the eye of fellow big league catchers.
Former Rookie of the Year and NL MVP Buster Posey told SFBay he was happy for his Bay Area rival:
“I’m a big fan of Stephen. I like the way he plays. The little bit I’ve been around him, he seems like a really good guy. I’m happy for him.”
Vogt, a product of Central Valley Christian High School, in Visalia, and Azusa Pacific University is a complete California product. But, with the trade deadline approaching, he could be nearing the end of his tenure with the A’s. When he does depart, he will leave knowing that is was in the Oakland Green and Gold that he reached one of the major milestones in his prosperous professional career.