White Sox

Lucas Giolito 'excited' to see Andrew Vaughn in 2023

/ by Ryan Taylor
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
White Sox

When asked who will have the biggest comeback season for the White Sox in 2023, Lucas Giolito took a while to answer.

After clarifying he would answer himself, he took almost a minute on the White Sox Talk podcast to deliver his answer. Until finally . . . 

"I wouldn't necessarily say Andrew Vaughn's season last year was poor, but I'm excited to see him do his thing now that he gets to play his natural position," Giolito said. "I think that taking that load off of his legs, running around the outfield all the time, which was not something that he ever did, and then he had to learn how to do it at the big league level and do that for a number of years.

"I think we're gonna be able to see that super elite hitter that Andrew Vaughn is at the highest level consistently throughout the course of the year. So I'm excited to see that."

A very interesting, unexpected answer, nonetheless. As Giolito said, Vaughn didn't have a bad sophomore season with the Sox in 2022. From a defensive standpoint, he did record the third-worst defensive runs saved value in the outfield. But, from the plate, he excelled. 

Vaughn slashed .271/.321/.429 from the batter's box last season, adding 17 home runs and 76 RBIs to his résumé. He was one of the White Sox' most valuable hitters in 2022, earning a 1.7 offensive WAR. 

He struggled on defense throughout his first two seasons in the majors. Vaughn played in the outfield – an unnatural position to him – for the majority of his 261 career games. Giolito believes his physical exertion in the outfield cost him opportunities at the plate. 

 

Without making excuses, Vaughn indirectly confirmed the idea. 

"I think that that extra work and all that running around, I was never used to it. I just never was," Vaughn said. "My body would get tired. I would lose a lot of weight, try to gain it back and just kind of fluctuate and be sore and had to try to get through it."

MOREVaughn details experience in outfield amid move to 1B

The young power hitter has faced plenty of obstacles outside of playing in the outfield. He mentioned the difficulty of adjusting to a quick rush to the majors in 2021 taking an entirely rare route of not playing in the minors or majors the year before his call-up due to Covid-19. 

"It's a grind. 162 games is long. And I also had never done that before," Vaughn said. "I went college for half a year in the minors, then COVID and barely played a game, and then went straight into a long season. It's definitely something you got to get used to."

With all the difficulty behind him, Vaughn now can focus on playing first base and return to his success at the plate. 

Jose Abreu's departure to the Houston Astros this season – to the tune of a three-year $50 million deal – offered an open spot for Vaughn to take on his organic slot on defense. 

And although he's preparing for a major defensive shift from outfield to first base, he ascertains his preparation is similar. 

"I still got to maintain everything. I still got to be ready," Vaughn said. "It's different, different routines, different physical activity. But it's where I played for three years in college and it's kind of home to me, I guess you could say. And I'm excited to look at that and get better every day."

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