Daniel Vogelbach hits a grand slam within the Mets’ win over the Nationals

WASHINGTON — Fair or not, much of the ink spilled over the Mets’ Trade Deadline strategy has focused less on what the team accomplished and more on what it didn’t. The Mets didn’t get a catcher or reliever. They did not imitate the flashy moves of the Braves, Phillies, Padres and other National League rivals.

But general manager Billy Eppler suggested that the front office “made our club better” by improving the perimeter with Daniel VogelbachTyler Naquin, There is a reputation and Michael Givens. To prove it, Vogelbach hit a grand slam in teams 9-5 win over the Nationals Wednesday, taking part in reminiscence-to-Guy list of players whose first long ball for the Mets was a slam.

“It’s always good to hit a home run,” Vogelbach said.

Mets whose first home run was a grand slam
• Daniel Vogelbach at Nationals, August 3, 2022
• Adrián González at Nationals, April 8, 2018
• Justin Ruggiano at Giants, August. 18, 2016
• Taylor Teagarden vs. Brewers, June 10, 2014
• Collin Cowgill vs. Padres, April 1, 2013
• Pagan Angel vs. Cardinal, August 5, 2009
• Omir Santos vs. Marlins, April 27, 2009
• José Reyes at Angels, June 15, 2003
• Dave Marshall at Giants, April 28, 1970
• Jack Hamilton vs. Cardinals, May 20, 1967
• Carl Willey vs. Astros, July 15, 1963

In Vogelbach and Ruf, the Mets feel like they’ve built a strong designated hitter for a club that received only paltry DH contributions in the first four months of the season. Before the Vogelbach acquisition, the Mets ranked in the bottom third of the Majors in DH production, as measured by OPS. Vogelbach has since elevated the Mets into the middle third thanks to a start that saw him reach base 16 times in 34 plate appearances.

He entered Wednesday’s game at Nationals Park sporting a .905 OPS against right-handed pitching. Had a .886 OPS vs. lefties at Ruf. The Mets together hope that those two players can approximate the production of an everyday player with an OPS close to that latitude — a Pete Alonso or Juan Soto type, as it were.

It may be a pipe dream to believe that Vogelbach and Ruf can bring the Mets superstar production at the DH position, but so far, so good. Vogelbach’s grand slam was the third of his career, coming on Jordan Weems’ 97 mph fastball that he surrendered over the right field fence.

“If you look at their track records and why they were acquired, it’s pretty clear what we’re going to expect,” manager Buck Showalter said of Vogelbach and Ruf. “We have done some good things, but not as many things as we would like. We looked for a way to upgrade that, and we think both of those guys have a very good track record from both sides of the plate. He gives the other team a real challenge.”

Entering the season, the Mets looked as well-equipped as any team to take advantage of the all-purpose DH, with Robinson Canó, Dominic Smith and JD Davis all boasting decent hitters. Other National League teams did not have that advantage. But Canoe ended up performing so poorly that the Mets designated him for assignment in early May, Smith received a Minor League demotion shortly thereafter and Davis was unable to produce past his match as a half team on the right.

“It’s taking advantage of the opportunities you get,” said Ruf, who spent much of his career in gang positions in Philadelphia and San Francisco. “It’s really important – especially if you’re getting two or three at-bats at the beginning of the game, or one or two at the end of the game – to be ready to go.”

Over his first two weeks in Flushing, Vogelbach proved his readiness, despite contributing mostly singles and walks. Vogelbach’s production was so light that Max Scherzer began mocking him within the clubhouse walls, calling the 6-foot, 270-pound slugger a slap hitter.

Then, on Wednesday, as Showalter put it, “Vogey had a big hit for us” — changing not only the Scherzer joke, but also the DH situation that the Mets believe is finally set for the stretch run.

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