Big League Stew - MLB

Fans at AT&T Park gave right-hander Ryan Vogelsong(notes) a memorable standing ovation on Sunday, a reception that was at least 10 years in the making.

Vogelsong, whose vagabond existence as a professional baseball player has been likened to a Jack Kerouac odyssey, took a perfect game into the sixth inning, and he combined with relievers Javier Lopez(notes) and Brian Wilson(notes) on a three-hitter in the San Francisco Giants' 3-0 victory.

It was his first start at AT&T in seven years — you know, back when it was called SBC Park.

Watch fans shower Vogelsong with praise

"That's the best experience I've ever had in baseball, to be honest with you," Vogelsong said. "It was awesome. My first start here as a Giant, and to pitch like that and to have the fans recognize not only the way I pitched but I think also the journey that it's been … to have them recognize that, that's what made it the best."

At 33 years old, Vogelsong hadn't pitched in the majors in nearly five years before the Giants called him up in mid April. Considering his repeated lack of success the first several times around in the big leagues, Vogelsong's reappearance could now be called a resurgence.

The greatest thing about Vogelsong is not merely that he never gave up and got back to the majors, but that he never gave up, got back to the majors, and is helping a team win.

In 20 2/3 innings so far, Vogelsong has a 3.05 ERA, along with a 17-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .171 opponents batting average. A leading indicator of future success is troubling — his opponents' .193 batting average on balls put in play will go up — but Vogelsong's fielder independent pitching (3.57) and xFIP (3.64) show a guy who can get it done in the majors.

Finally! His results this season contrast with a guy whose teams had a 29-91 record in his appearances from 2000-2006.

Though he was a onetime prospect for the Giants and the key bait for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Jason Schmidt(notes) trade in 2001, Vogelsong soon had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. He followed it up with performances that added up to a  5.86 ERA in some 315 career innings. His FIP and xFIP indicate he pitched a little better than that, but not much better.

(The photo on the right comes from spring training 2000, when Vogelsong probably had noooo idea what was coming.)

Vogelsong was mediocre in Japan from 2007 to 2009 and seemed to be spiraling downward for good in stints with the Phillies and Angels organizations in 2010.

That's where his major league dream was supposed to end, unless you count what looked like a "For old time's sake" invitation to spring training by the Giants. But that turned into a need for a major leaguer after Vogelsong was good in Triple-A and the Giants lost starter Barry Zito(notes) for a time.

Who knows how long this Vogelsong will play? But he's been performing one of the better tunes of this young season.

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave — and engage the Stew on Facebook

Related Articles

Big League Stew

Add to My Yahoo RSS

Related Photo Gallery

Y! Sports Blog