Stephen Vogt was one of the Giants' bright spots in 2019.
The backup catcher slashed .263/.314/.490 and hit 10 home runs and 40 RBI in 2019, a year after it looked like his major league career was all but over following shoulder surgery. The two-time All-Star was worth 1.02 wins above replacement, his highest WAR total since 2015.
But Vogt's impact might have been bigger off the field. Bruce Bochy's final season as Giants manager was one of transition, as San Francisco integrated younger and inexperienced players into its lineup. KNBR's Mark Sanchez reported Sunday that Vogt took his younger teammates under his wing in a variety of ways, providing advice at key times and helping them prepare for life in the big leagues.
“I’ve been all over the map,” Vogt told KNBR. “If there’s any experience that I’ve been through that I can relate to a guy with, of course I want to try to help him get through it faster than it took me to get through it. I wish I would have had more people in my life that would come talk to me when I was struggling. I had people – it’s not like no one would ever help me, a lot of people helped me. So that’s what you do.”
During a road trip to Los Angeles, Vogt purchased suits for rookies Tyler Beede, Shaun Anderson and Mike Yastrzemski to wear on road trips. A veteran had done the same for Vogt early in his career, and he wanted to ensure the tradition would continue.
“He always made sure that whenever he had the means to do it or he was in a position to buy a suit for a rookie, he would do it,” Beede told KNBR. “And his only thing in return he wants from us is to pay it forward to the next rookie that comes up when we’re in his position to do the same thing. He just has a passion for keeping the positive traditions in baseball going, and you need a guy like that, you know?”
Vogt also helped Anderson, Yastrzemski and outfielder Jaylin Davis through their own rookie-year struggles, advising the trio on how to maintain perspective early in their careers. As a catcher who didn't debut in the big leagues until he was 27 and didn't record his first hit until he was 28, Vogt has enough experience to relate to just about anyone.
The 34-year-old Vogt can become an unrestricted free agent this winter. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi did not go into specifics about the team's free-agency plans, but he did note San Francisco has "a certain level of interest in bringing all [their possible free agents] back."
Buster Posey's decline and Vogt's experience would make him a good fit at Oracle Park once again, but his ability to connect with young players might be even more important for the rebuilding Giants.