Andrew Vaughn answering one question in September, but opening another

White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn
(Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports)

There’s an argument that being required to report to a Charlotte Knights team that’s 14-52 in the second half constitutes an unconstitutional punishment, but take the specific destination out of play, and Oscar Colás more or less deserved his Triple-A sentencing.

But it didn’t come without a cost, because what it removed from the White Sox is one guy for whom the remaining weeks of the season could have actually mattered. Even if nobody wanted Colás as Plan A for an outfield with ambition, a Colás who worked his way out of Pedro Grifol’s doghouse would be an easy Plan B across the board due to the lack of alternatives.

That’s not going to happen, and so the relevance of the September roster takes a big hit. You can eliminate nearly three-quarters of the 28-man roster when it comes to hoping whether a strong finish to 2023 matters for 2024. Start by crossing off the impending free agents, as well as most of the pitching staff due to the small sample sizes and lack of present momentum. Carlos Pérez, Zach Remillard and Trayce Thompson seem to have no bearing on next year’s roster, and Gavin Sheets shouldn’t. Andrew Benintendi and Dylan Cease have been disappointments, but they’ll still be around.

As far as the eight men in, they’re mostly intriguing for their circumstances, not the inherent excitement of watching them. In alphabetical order:

Tim Anderson and Eloy Jiménez: Anderson has a club option, while Jiménez will be entering the last year of the guaranteed portion of his extension. I don’t think a hot finish will change any minds in terms of their reliability, but it could change the tenor of trade talks if the Sox are hoping for a change-of-scenery deal with either over the winter.

Korey Lee: I’m not buying him, but if the White Sox are, then we have go to along for this ride.

Yoán Moncada: Like I wrote a week ago, a Moncada who sees this terrific 30-game stretch all the way through is the team’s best bet for added entertainment value in 2024, which would then turn into trade value halfway through if he doesn’t get much support elsewhere.

Luis Robert Jr.: I want to see him finish as high as possible in American League MVP voting.

Gregory Santos: Similar to Robert, it’d be nice if his finish could preserve numbers that reflect how reliable he’s been all year.

Lenyn Sosa: He’s the only player on the active roster born in the 2000s. It’s very much a problem when a team tears it down at the deadline, and the resulting roster doesn’t make you feel that old.

Last but certainly not least, because he wouldn’t be in the headline otherwise…

Andrew Vaughn: No matter what kind of start Vaughn produced, I was mostly interested in what he could offer at the end of the season. He hit just .169/.222/.261 over his first two Septembers while dealing with concerns about his back and legs, so he hadn’t yet shown that his body was capable of surviving a six-month grind.

This season suggest he might have a handle on it. He reached 20 homers in a season for the first time with his two-run shot on Thursday, which produced the only runs in the White Sox’s 10-2 loss to Minnesota. He’s now hitting .292 and slugging .542 halfway into the final month of 2023, and he’s raised those particular second-half stats to .286 and .451, which is a lot closer to what was expected of him all along.

Scott Merkin’s game recap took notice of Vaughn’s stronger state …

His overall inexperience and extra wear and tear brought about by literally the first outfield experience took its toll on Vaughn, who finished 2021 going 4-for-42 with no extra-base hits in his final 12 games. In ‘22, Vaughn hit .200 with a .580 OPS during September and October.

As a result, getting himself ready to succeed from Games 1 to 162 was an offseason priority. With his two-run blast against Kenta Maeda (5-7) in the seventh, Vaughn is hitting .353 with three homers, three doubles, seven runs scored and six RBIs over his last nine September starts.

“I’m feeling good. Definitely feeling better. The last two years, I learned a lot about myself and tried to prepare for this,” Vaughn said. “Nothing huge. Just adding stuff in the weight room. I need to go in the training room, don’t be so stubborn. Get it done.”

… yet it’s too early for Vaughn to take a victory lap for a couple reasons. He needs to see it all the way through, because last September looked decent until he went 2-for-34 to close it out. Also, you may have noticed that I didn’t produce full slash lines in the preceding paragraph, and that’s because his lack of walks is too distracting.

Here’s what it looks like when you add his OBP to the mix:

  • September: .292/.306/.542
  • Second half: .286/.306/.451

Somewhere along the way, Vaughn developed a lethal allergy to ball four. Here are the walk rates for every White Sox hitter with more than 50 plate appearances since June 29:

  1. Yasmani Grandal, 11.8%
  2. Jake Burger, 11.3%
  3. Andrew Benintendi, 9.2%
  4. Seby Zavala, 8.9%
  5. Eloy Jiménez, 6.8%
  6. Zach Remillard, 6.2%
  7. Trayce Thompson, 5.8%
  8. Yoán Moncada, 5.6%
  9. Luis Robert Jr., 5.6%
  10. Elvis Andrus, 5.5%
  11. Tim Anderson, 5.2%
  12. Gavin Sheets, 5.0%
  13. Oscar Colás, 3.9%
  14. ANDREW VAUGHN, 1.8%
  15. Lenyn Sosa, 0.0%

Most of the White Sox’s disappointing developments in 2023 have explanations, because they’re why the projection systems were so unenthusiastic about the team before it even played one game. This one defies any easy one. Vaughn, who drew a walk in 24.5 percent of his plate appearances his junior season at Cal, is now walking less than guys who never draw walks (Anderson, Colás), and the only guy he’s beating is the guy who literally never draws walks.

So while Vaughn is pounding the baseball with more authority than ever, he’s still playing a game of Wack-A-Mole in terms of his overall profile. He swatted down at one hole in his game (finish seasons strong), but now there’s another to contend with (avoid outs at even an average rate), and solving that one isn’t as simple as getting into the gym.

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I am having a hard time understanding how Vaughn and Sosa look so allergic to walks.


They are playing the game the right way.


The only thing I can come up with is that he is being given very very bad advice.


Anyone who listens to any of the Sox coaches is getting very bad advice.

That being said, Vaughn’s September is encouraging. It seems he made a special effort to finish strong, and so far he is doing that. He’s still young with almost no minor league experience, so if he can continue to improve, he may actually get to an average or slightly above average first baseman!


So then why bring Jose Castro and Chris Johnson back? Not a single hitter has done better with them. Not one.


Get ready for the “well they had to work with the players Kenny/Rick provided” argument to keep them in place despite the results.


But they are down almost 20 points in team OBP from last year and 43 points from 2 years ago. They were 3rd in the majors in obp 2 years ago, now they are last and it’s not even close, with basically the same team. And we have nothing to show for it, 8 HRs that’s it(and a big chunk of those are now in Miami), everything else is down.

As Cirensica

Walks are way down. I don’t know if Menechino screwed things up or what happened.


Why bring any of them back? Only Getz can tell us why.


White Sox reasons: He is Cuban and he was the 2013 Royals Assistant minor league hitting coordinator.


In fairness to all the disappointing players on the 2023 White Sox, they all are pretty much meh except Robert Jr. who may end up having the best value to move on and get more supplementary pieces for a “blip year”, but doubt Getz would consider moving him since the optics are already horrid surrounding the team. Also don’t trust he would get the value required for a trade to be equitable. But at least Salvador Perez, Whit Merrifield, Dale Sveum, Dave Eiland, Mike Jirschele, Danny Duffy and maybe Johnny Cueto will be brought in to help with “leadership” and “winning culture”


Put some respect on Brad Keller.


Good call, is he a FA?


And Nicky Lopez.


Is Paul Splittorf still around?


Can’t think of anyone better if the FO really wants to shut the door on the “Change the Game” White Sox.


The one coach with Royals ties (and Katz ties, since he seems to hold sway in the FO) who I’d like to see is Brian Bannister, but I doubt the Giants are ready to move on from him.


Matt Daniels was another name I thought of from the Giants, think he is with the Twins now maybe, but any connection is worth mentioning given the “only hire who you know” philosophy the White Sox employee


What if – and I’m just spitballing here, but what if – between the pandemic, the lack of minor league plate appearances, and playing out of position for two years, we can’t really read too much into Vaughn’s development to date and that if we regard him as someone with occasional flashes of brilliance, who’s better positioned going forward and still 3 years younger than his level there’s plenty of upside to look forward to?


That sounds very reasonable. I’m afraid we can’t accept it.


this made me laugh out loud


He is still short and slow.


and Vaughn’s abysmal walk rate mentioned here is from June 29 onward. Previous to that this season he was walking at a 9.7% rate which is above average. So he CAN do it, he just hasn’t been doing it lately. I think he’ll be fine.


I’m afraid I can’t buy it. Certainly, no one should be writing off his upside and we could see him unlock more in the future. But this rosy outlook is still hard to buy, for a few reasons. First, the report out of college was Vaughn’s bat was nearly MLB-ready, almost a finished product. But he was disappointing from the get-go, even pre-pandemic: SSS, but his OPS didn’t crack .800 in Kannapolis or Winston Salem. Second, though he had a funky path to the Majors thanks to the pandemic, so did most of the young players in baseball and Vaughn is 25 with over 1,800 professional PAs. Finally, and most troublingly, there’s not really anything in the profile that suggests a breakout is coming. He’s not walking and, recent power surge notwithstanding, he’s shown little ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark (for a 1B/DH type). Jim’s pointed this out before, but even the eye test tells a story: Vaughn’s big flies die at the warning track more than those of Sheets, Burger, or Robert. 

Of course, I hope you’re right and, even if he’s not the middle-of-the-order masher we all dreamed of on draft night, he could still improve. So, if he could be a .280/.340/.450 with 25 HRs, I probably take that outcome at this point (even if I wouldn’t have on draft night).

Right Size Wrong Shape

I guess that’s fine for a Tim Elko placeholder.

Alfornia Jones

He needs a lesson from Konerko or Thome to give him a plan at the plate. He can cover the fastball, but he needs to take way more pitches and not miss mistake pitches. It all starts with his leg kick trigger mechanism, and he offers on virtually every pitch thrown to him. Baines had a bigger leg kick so maybe talk to Harold to reel him in. Strategically, there needs to be way more pitches that are a take all the way. Someone needs to explain to him you don’t take a hit on 12 when the dealer is showing 16. AV being a 1-2 WAR player shouldn’t be this hard.

Joliet Orange Sox

I see your point but I think Konerko (career ops+ of 118, the same as Eloy) should never ever be mentioned in the same sentence as Thome (career ops+ of 147).


He’s trying to become Jake Burger!



Last edited 2 months ago by FishSox

I’m just disappointed that the Sox put Sosa in the lineup this week. His bench development has been superior!


The walk rates are amazingly bad. Burger, who never seemed to be walking, was our second most patient hitter? Good Grief

As Cirensica

He became a dangerous hitter, and pitchers started to show a little bit of more respect over time. They started to notice that challenging Burger was a mistake.

Last edited 2 months ago by As Cirensica

It was clear as the high blue skies in AZ in March. Yet, Kenny was allowed to override. I mean this was obvious to fans. That Burger trade brought me to the lowest point I’ve ever been to as a Sox fan.

As Cirensica

Wow… Michael Kopech is not a starter. It’s not a reliver either.

As Cirensica

Make it stop please. Just shut him down for the rest of the season.


That was extremely sad. Imagine what could have been. This organization is completely trashed out. Seby doing great in the small sample in AZ. Everyone is doing great but Lucas.

Southside Mike

If I remember correctly Vaughn was a #4 draft choice for the Sox more than a couple of years ago. By my book he rates as a huge disappointment regardless of other factors.


About 50% of first round picks, never play one day in the majors.

Southside Mike

That doesn’t negate the fact that he’s a huge disappointment. Just a very average hitter for a power position and not a great fielder.


I think it absolutely negates it. Not that your observations are incorrect but the odds of players having any impact at MLB, even first rounders, are slim. The reality is the draft is a crap shoot. Not saying the Sox draft well, but any player that can come to MLB and contribute can’t be considered a “huge disappointment”. Your own admission that he’s an average MLB hitter should negate the “huge disappointment”.

Southside Mike

This franchise has settled for average players long enough. At this juncture an average player for me is a huge disappointment. How many playoff appearances let alone WS titles are we going to get with average players? We should all want players that are going to put us in contention. I know not all first rounders become stars but the teams with the best talent evaluators do draft stars, we just don’t have good talent evaluators. I’m tired of the mediocrity aren’t you?


If you look at the #3 picks in years prior, there is a Longoria and a Machado and a drop to Hosmer, Rodon, Bauer. But there is a fair amount of disappointment.


Keep in mind what you just said, a couple of years ago. Vaughn looks like one of the only players that is in his own world trying whatever he can to progress regardless of the incompetence he is entrenched in. Given how recently he was drafted I’m not giving up on him, he’s shown some promise.

Alfornia Jones

It’s obvious this team has quit on the manager and franchise, he’s just not credible and he’ll never get the respect of the players.

They need to change everything possible, so declining TA’s option has to happen along with trading Eloy for free clubhouse soda. The return doesn’t matter , neither can be fixed in a Sox uniform. This won’t wipe all the stench off, but doing less is doing nothing. JR is right this is the worst season since he took over and it’s not close.


I think it should still be a buck.


All I can picture is Dean Wormer reading off these walk rates and ending with 0.0.


Whiff, Whiff and Whiff, is no way to go through life.

or, more appropriately perhaps…

“You’re not walking out of this one, mister! You’re finished! “


Yes, Vaughn hasn’t had the season I thought he’d have but looking at this team, he’s far down the list of my concerns going into next season. We need outfielders, a 2nd baseman, maybe a shortstop though I still think Anderson will be coming back, maybe a catcher while we wait for Quero and a bunch of pitchers, both starters and relievers. So no, Vaughn isn’t a concern of mine for next season.