Vaughn talks continuing legacy of White Sox first basemen originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The White Sox have a recent pantheon of great first basemen.
Frank Thomas lit the torch, creating a Hall of Fame career over a nearly 20-year span from 1990-2008. Then it was Paul Konerko, a silent leader in the clubhouse and the face of the White Sox’ 2005 World Series win. Most recently, Jose Abreu was an integral part of the club’s plan for success, joining the team in 2014 and taking the baton with aplomb and perennial success.
Now, it’s up to Andrew Vaughn to continue the legacy.
Yet, he’s not attempting to replicate the careers of the last three first basemen greats. He’s focused on writing his own story at first base.
“Those are Hall of Fame caliber players. Incredible pedigree,” Vaughn said on the White Sox Talk podcast. “But I just got to go be me. I can’t try to hold myself to those expectations. I have to go prove myself every day, because if I’m looking at trying to be Frank Thomas, trying to be Paul Konerko, trying to be Pito (Jose Abreu). They’re not me, they’re them. And they were phenomenal in what they did. But I have to do what I can do.”
Vaughn is heading into his third year in the majors and with the White Sox. A former first-round draft pick of the Sox in the 2019 MLB draft, he scorched through minor league play and earned his major league stripes in 2021.
He started in the outfield, playing 191 games of his 261-game career in the outfield while Abreu held his post at first base. He got some looks at first base, earning 38 games at his natural position.
But now, he’ll take on the full-time reigns of first base in light of Abreu signing a three-year $50 million deal with the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros during the offseason.
And while Vaughn is prepared to take on first base after paying his dues in the outfield, he offered kind words for Abreu.
“He was awesome for the clubhouse, a phenomenal baseball player,” Vaughn said. “It’s tough to see him go. It really is. But baseball’s a business and we’ll get to see him on opening day.”
The White Sox ironically face the Astros in Houston on Opening Day in a four-game series.
Vaughn will be looking to return to his powerful bat, which saw him hit 17 home runs and 76 RBIs last season. He slashed .271/.321/.429 from the plate in an impressive sophomore outing. During a season where his team suffered injuries and obstacles at the plate – Vaughn thrived.
His trajectory is intriguing to follow. But he wades cautiously in projecting what he believes he can do for his third year.
“I’m not a huge projection guy. I’m a day-by-day guy,” Vaughn said. “I want to go out on day one and be the best I can be that day and then progress off that day in and day out.”
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