Andrew Vaughn’s place on the 2021 White Sox

WOW!! It’s been basically a month since I have laid down some words on the proverbial internet paper that we call a blog. Before I get to the meat and potatoes of what is rattling around in my thick skull, I gots to say thanks to all of yous. Especially yous that came out to Cork and Kerry on 106th and Western on Thursday to watch our LIVE SHOW, POWERED by GOOSE ISLAND, with special Guest Josh Nelson from SoxMachine. We got a surprisingly good crowd for a Thursday night, right after work show. I’ll admit I was a tad bit nervous when we started as the seats weren’t quite as full as I was hoping, but as we got 10-15 mins into the show, the place filled up properly. We even had a celebrity or two in our midst ingesting the show.

On to the business at hand….

Andrew Vaughn is……

I’ve been trying to figure out what Andrew Vaughn is myself. I know he’s was the #3 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Rule 4 Amateur Draft out of Cal. I know he was basically a universal top 20 prospect in MLB coming into the 2021 season. I’ve observed that he was rushed from A-ball / the alternate site to a nearly everyday role in Chicago. We as a collective group have watched him have to take on an entirely new position, which in some ways is diametrically opposed to the one he has grown up playing (1b to lf). As of this morning, Mr. Vaughn (as Bonita Steakie calls him every time he comes to the plate) has a .229 / .305 / .391 slash line, which doesn’t seem great, but in an environment of low to weird offense, it is good for a 95 wRC+ or basically 5% below league average (league average being a spiffy 100).

It would be fairly easy to diagnose Andrew’s opening stanza as a major league baseball player as a success, given the circumstances. He’s had to bend and flex to a roster that wasn’t quite ready for him, but desperately needed him. Now let’s get to the less pleasant news.

White Sox hitters vs Right Handed Pitching

Here’s a quick table I pulled from the fine people at Fangraphs of all White Sox hitters with at least 100 Plate Appearances vs RHP and their results.

There’s ole Andrew, way, way at the bottom. You know how bad it’s been watching Yermin Mercedes lately, his season production against RHP still dwarfs Vaughn’s. This table is sorted by wRC+ so as to get a league average feel to it and in that respect, Vaughn is at 39, which is 61% below league average. Searching for the right vocabulary word to describe that, I would say its, BAD. If you like old school stats, he’s slugging .250 vs RHP…..that’d be a pretty mediocre batting average, but alas, that’s his slugging %. Vaughn has just 1 home run off of a righty and that’s off of MySoxSummer’s home town pal Jakob Junis. It’s been rough.

Heading over to Baseball Savant to track his success (or lack there of) against certain pitches vs right handers, it appears we might have a Pedro Cerrano situation on our hands.

Slugging .155 vs Break balls seems suboptimal

Basically….so what now….what do you make of 2.5 months of Andrew Vaughn getting bodied by right handed pitchers?

What do we do about this today??

Pretty much, we don’t have any GOOD options in the organization to replace Vaughn and let him go to AAA and work on his issues with the bouncey ball, so he has to stay. He’s clearly a top 26 player in the White Sox org. So they should do basically nothing. Maybe they revert to the early season strategy (which some segments of the fanbase screamed about) of scheduling Andrew’s off-days versus the more unpleasant right handed breaking ball spinners. Or maybe you make sure to play him against them to attempt to speed up the learning curve, but the elixir for today, imo, is nothing.

What do we do about this tomorrow?

That is a fine question. The White Sox, could, in theory, make a trade that reinforces the roster to a point that Vaughn could be used in more specifically advantageous situations. A versatile position player that demolishes right handed pitching would definitely relegate Vaughn to a role that more suits his best assets (Vaughn clobbers LHP like they stole something) today. This is a new situation for Rick Hahn, so I am pretty interested to see how he might attack it. I hope he’s as aggressive with these trades as he was with the prospect trades.

There is a fine line however with this specific situation. Vaughn is a high end prospect who was thrust into action by a bit of a shallow 40 man roster. Put that at the feet of the Owner, or the GM, or both, at this point, it doesn’t fucking matter, it is what it is. In that though, you have to balance Vaughn’s ultimate development (the White Sox have more than a half decade of control of the young slugger), with winning the got-damned division today. Maybe, the Cleveland baseball team will lay down in traffic and allow the White Sox enough breathing room to take a near zero in Vaughn’s bat vs RHP. I’m hopeful that could be the case, but I wouldn’t count on it. I’m curious to see what path the org takes in the coming months and if they are willing to realize how much this is hurting them vs RHP.

If the Playoffs started tomorrow…..

I love the saying “If the Playoffs started tomorrow”, it’s the most hypothetical bullshit statement ever crafted. But let’s envision it. If they did. Andrew Vaughn isn’t a starter in any playoff game in which the opposing team doesn’t start a left handed pitcher. Furthermore, if the White Sox end up vs a team that can choose to not start a LHP against them at all in the series, I am not sure Andrew Vaughn makes the playoff roster. I can’t believe I just wrote that, but there isn’t a ton of utility to carry a guy who might bat one time in a series vs a left handed reliever. Maybe you still do it because you prefer him over Mercedes because he can pick up a glove, but as of this morning. It’s close. Seems wild, but it needs to be evaluated.

In the end, Andrew Vaughn hisself can make this decision a lot easier by figuring out RHP. He did smack a nice double last night, against Luis Garcia who is no slouch, but as you can see above, off-speed pitches have been a Robert Stack styled Unsolved Mystery to him. This is most definitely one side-story I’ll be watching very carefully as we get into the dog days of summer.


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