Ryan Vogelsong’s Miracle Season Continues

Trying to play the “If you thought…” game with Ryan Vogelsong can get so out of hand, that we’ll just start here — if you thought Ryan Vogelsong was a good pitcher heading into the 2011 season, you were undeniably crazy. Everything that has happened since then has been completely unpredictable. Not only did Vogelsong re-emerge in the majors after nearly five seasons, but he managed to establish himself as an effective pitcher when injuries forced him into the rotation. After 13 starts and a 2.13 ERA, Vogelsong’s miraculous season continued as he was been named to the NL All-Star team last Sunday. While his selection is fairly controversial — Bruce Bochy did make the selection — no one can deny that Vogelsong is having an exceptional season. Even if his performance isn’t All-Star worthy, Vogelsong is proving that he’s a completely different pitcher.

Just six starts into his season, Tommy Rancel took a closer look at Vogelsong’s stats. Rancel concluded that while Vogelsong looked like an improved pitcher, there were some signs that regression could be coming. Still, his peripherals seemed solid enough that regression might not hurt Vogelsong as much as we would expect.

For the most part, Rancel’s prediction has been correct. Although Vogelsong’s peripherals haven’t regressed all that much, his FIP and xFIP has risen despite the fact that his ERA has dropped over that same period. Even with that tiny regression, Vogelsong’s 3.61 xFIP tells us that his improvements are real. How exactly has he been able to come back and pitch effectively after five years out of the league?

There are two factors that seem to be propelling Vogelsong’s strong season. The first of which seems to be that he loves pitching at home. As Dave Cameron has profiled many many times on this site, there’s magic in the air at AT&T Park. Vogelsong has been a huge beneficiary of not only the park in general — where he’s allowed only five runs in 44.1 innings and carries a 1.01 ERA — but he has also benefitted from it’s magical home run preventing powers. Over those 44.1 innings, Vogelsong has only given up one home run at AT&T Park — good for a .20 HR/9 rate. While that number is ridiculously unsustainable, there’s something going on in San Francisco that limits home runs. We know his HR/9 rate is going to rise as the season progresses, but it’s still likely to remain pretty low.

The second factor behind Vogelsong’s emergence has been the effectiveness of his fastball. Despite never really being a strong weapon for Vogelsong, his fastball has been worth 13.8 runs above average this season. If you look at Vogelsong’s wFB/C — the average value of his fastball per 100 pitches — his current 1.82 rate leads all of major league baseball. For some reason, batters have had a much more difficult time picking up Vogelsong’s fastball this season. Since our PitchFx data on Vogelsong is so limited, it’s extremely tough to pinpoint exactly why his fastball has become a useful weapon at this point in his career.

Armed with a shiny new fastball, and some good fortune at his home park, Ryan Vogelsong has emerged as a useful mid-rotation starter for the San Francisco Giants. Perhaps he’s not All-Star worthy, but Vogelsong’s already exceeded expectations this season. If he can use his fastball to continue to strike out batters at a career-high rate, Vogelsong should continue to post solid stats even if his peripherals start to slip. We’ve expected regression from Vogelsong since May and it still hasn’t fully set it yet. Even when that regression comes, Vogelsong looks he’s done enough to overcome a total collapse.

We hoped you liked reading Ryan Vogelsong’s Miracle Season Continues by Chris Cwik!

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

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DrBGiantsfan
Guest

I will say this: I saw Vogelsong pitch a few innings for the Giants way back before he was traded to the Pirates in the Jason Schmidt trade, and I thought he was going to be a star. Great size, long arms, great arm action, a live fastball with all kinds of movement, a sharp breaking ball. I figured the TJ surgery was just a temporary setback like it is for a lot of pitchers.

I have no idea what was going on in his life or pitching mechanics all those years he literally wandered in the wilderness, but what I see now is exactly what I thought he could become 10, that’s right, 10 years ago!

When the Giants signed him to a minor league deal this spring, of course I could not have predicted we’d see him do anything resembling what he’s doing now, but I did know that the Giants seem to have a knack for fixing talented pitchers who are struggling for whatever reason and I had reason to hope he might help this team out.

One more thought: I don’t know the history of when or how Vogey met his wife, but she seems to be a special woman. For one thing, she is gorgeous and for another she seems to be a driving force behind his career resurgence. She urged him to give it one last try and attends all of his games. She tweets and says she cried all the way through his first start. She still cries when he walks off the field at the end of another successful start. Never, ever underestimate the power of a good woman in a man’s life!

Oh and one more thing: Vogey’s winter ball catcher was Guillermo Rodriguez, long time Giants farmhand and now a coach in their organization. Vogey told GRod that he’d like to pitch for the Giants again. GRod sent along a recommendation, but no word came from on high. Then came an offer from the Dodgers. Vogey told GRod he wanted to give the Giants one last chance because HE DIDN’T WANT TO BE A DODGER! How great is that? Anyway, the Giants responded this time with a contract offer and the rest is history. Never underestimate the power of a man who has something to prove, not only to himself but to the organization that developed him and then traded him all those many years ago.

Just a great, great story, the stuff movies are made of!

Feeding the Abscess
Guest
Feeding the Abscess

Poe’s law

state school grad
Guest
state school grad

check out vogelson and beckett

vogelson age 33

becket age 31 (bos redsox)

6 feet 3 to becketts 6’4.6″

similar stance similar delivery, same fastball ( a few ticks off for vogel )

similar cutter, same curve, same changeup…. practically same W total and practically same SO per 9.

what im saying is they are almost identical in velocity and delivery and height.

almost same age too. very very scary, if you put vogelson in a beckett redsox uniform 99% of the drunk bo sox fans wouldnt recongize a difference.

this is the “BECKETTS LAW”

state school grad
Guest
state school grad

you can email me for a job interview, i am currently looking for a job. i do research in the baseball and football field and am accurate 86% of the time.

no one has pointed out the differences between beckett and vogelson until now on fangraphs. thank you.

i do research in crunching numbers, deliveries, stances, bubble butts on starting pitchers, body fat indexes and other goodies.

have a good day.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest

I have no idea at all what that means or what the point of it is. There are a lot of pitchers in baseball who are between 6’3″ and 6’5″ with fastballs that go 91-93 MPH. Inneresting comp though.

X-Terminator
Guest
X-Terminator

well, Rush Limbaugh is accurate 99.6% of the time so i think you need to kick it up a notch….

Oasis
Guest
Oasis

“Just a great, great story, the stuff movies are made of”

The movie “The Rookie” comes to mind. That guy had an awesome career too, right?

DrBGiantsfan
Guest

Vogelsong has already accomplished way more in his career than the guy in the rookie, but great comp there. Let’s see, the guy is the rookie was a flash in the pan so Vogelsong must be too.