After two years of confusion and inconsistency, Andrew Vaughn heads into 2023, looking to find success through stability.
Since Vaughn started his career in 2021, due to both injury and lack of depth, the first baseman served as a primary outfielder for the White Sox. He was fairly serviceable; however, it was evident that he was not a true outfielder. In 2023, he will transition to first base following the departure of Jose Abreu. While Vaughn’s value wasn’t on the defensive side, he earned his spot in the lineup with his bat. In two years, he has already accumulated 2.7 oWAR while slashing .255/.315/ .414 and has been, most importantly, available, as he played in 261 games over two years, with 1024 plate appearances for the White Sox. Evidently, there is a lot for White Sox fans to be excited about regarding their new starting first baseman.
Everything points towards Andrew Vaughn’s value only going up as he settles into a more comfortable defensive role and becomes a leader on the offense. However, the pressure to succeed goes beyond a need for improvement within his stat line. He has big shoes to fill as he steps into the role vacated by fan-favorite Jose Abreu, who signed with the reigning World Series Champions, the Houston Astros, in free agency.
Abreu won the A.L. MVP in 2020 and has been a leader in the clubhouse for the White Sox over the eight years he was in Chicago. He most recently hit .304 with 15 bombs and 75 RBIs, accumulating a WAR of 4.2 in 2022. While the power was a bit down from past years, he was still one of the best first basemen in the league. However, this has been a trend at this position for quite a while now in this franchise.
The White Sox have a history of success at first base beyond Jose Abreu. Before Abreu was Paul Konerko, and before Konerko was Frank Thomas. Since Frank Thomas entered the scene in 1990, White Sox first basemen have accumulated 3 MVPs, 14 All-Star appearances, 7 Silver Slugger Awards, 1 Batting Title,1 Rookie of the Year, 2 TSN Player of the Year Awards, and 2 World Series Champions (same year).
Needless to say, White Sox fans have a certain expectation for their first basemen, and Andrew Vaughn has been showing signs of offensive success that make many fans excited. Vaughn is one of the most promising young guys on this team, and his improvement could influence the winning culture of this White Sox team.