Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Daniel Vogelbach might be the last guy in the Majors you’d pick to stretch a single into a double right now. (OK, no, that’s still Albert Pujols. But it’s pretty damn close!) You know the last time Vogey was on the basepaths before yesterday? It was this hobble home back on June 22, in the middle of a putrid Diamondbacks stretch, where an injured Vogelbach still made it in safe from third because it never occurred to the Arizona infield that they should toss the ball home. (I’ve contended that, from certain angles, Vogelbach looks nothing like a legal runner, but you should still listen to your catcher when he’s yelling at you like that.)
Vogelbach’s hamstring injury, plus a complication with his foot during a rehab appearance, kept the former 30-homer hitter out of the Brewers’ lineup for the months of July and August. (He did provide some moral support, though. Check out his Independence Day getup.) Finally, in September, he was healthy enough to play again for the NL Central leaders.
“It tested some patience,” Vogelbach said in anticipation of his return. “But I’m happy to be back. That was the ultimate goal, to be back healthy. The swing feels good and I feel good, and I’m ready for the final push.”
That patience would continue to be tested in his first game back, on Wednesday against the Giants, as Vogelbach struck out swinging in a pinch-hit appearance. Furthermore, in his first two at-bats of his start on Thursday, he grounded out and lined out.
But finally, after so much time away, Vogelbach got so excited to be reunited with his friend first base that he just had to try to include his other friend second base in the hang, perhaps unwisely. He got a ball down in right field in the seventh, with the game tied 1-1. It was just a solid little knock that escaped the shift in and rolled all the way to the wall, and it sat in that weird grey area between a single and a double. Daniel Vogelbach is not a man equipped to turn singles into doubles.
Take a moment to think about this play. Vogelbach is a remarkably square fella who even on the best of days runs like he’s using ice skates on that dirt instead of cleats—his Statcast sprint speed ranks 520th out of 536 in MLB this year. His trips around the diamond are textbook definitions of the word “chugging.” But even worse, he just came back from a hammy and a foot injury, and he’s still trying to hustle like this. The whole thing was ill-advised and a little unpleasant to absorb. But I have to at least kind of respect it.