The lack of a designated hitter in the National League left Dan Vogelbach’s future with the Brewers in question for much of this spring.
While he’s capable of standing at first base and could be one of the many fallback options the Brewers have if the Keston Hiura experiment doesn’t work well there, it was far from a preferable option, and his lack of defensive versatility is not typically something the Brewers favor in their bench bats.
Still, it appears Big Dan will be around for at least a little while longer, as the Brewers reporedly told him he’s making the Opening Day roster.
"We're going to try to take advantage of a big bat off the bench," Craig Counsell said of Daniel Vogelbach. The aim is to "get him a big at-bat every night."— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) March 28, 2021
Even if pitchers are going to be hitting this year (although let’s not put it past MLB to make an announcement on NL DHs the day before the season), Vogelbach could fill a key role as one of Craig Counsell’s go-to pinch-hitters. Whoever is not in the starting lineup between Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Avisail Garcia could also fill that role, but Vogelbach figures to be the one to get the call if the Brewers found themselves in a run-scoring situation when the 9th spot in the order comes up — as indicated by Counsell’s comments to Adam McCalvy.
Vogelbach was one of the team’s few offensive bright spots in the shortened 2020 season, and showed at least some ability to take what the other team was giving him in terms of beating the shift.
Roster spots will be extremely valuable this year, though, with so many teams trying to get through an 162-game schedule without pitchers’ arms falling off. For that reason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Vogelbach get lost in a roster squeeze at some point this season when the Brewers need an arm — potentially even early in the season.
Even if Big Dan ends up getting Ji-man Choi’d, we can take solace in the fact that the embodiment of Wisconsin will be around for at least a little while longer.