Andrew Vaughn

White Sox' Andrew Vaughn Heats Up, Showing How Deep Lineup Can Be

Andrew Vaughn heats up, Sox lineup gets dangerous originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After Andrew Vaughn collected three hits in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader, Tony La Russa pondered the effects of a switched-on Vaughn.

"Makes it a very deep lineup doesn't it?"

The White Sox are starting to see the top-to-bottom dangerous lineup they were dreaming of during the spring with Vaughn heating up at the plate.

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The rookie slugger hasn't done much in the way of slugging in his first few weeks as a big leaguer. But he's starting to get his feet under him against major league pitching, and the results have been impressive. He's reached base in 11 of his last 12 games, and he's got a batting average north of .400 and an on-base percentage north of .450 in his last seven games.

It's a noticeable surge from what he was doing in his first few trips to the plate.

"You are on the big stage, and I haven’t really been on that stage before," Vaughn said Friday. "I definitely was pressing a little hard, trying to create a result instead of just going out and having fun and playing the game that I love and have been playing since I was a little kid. Tried to take a step back and just slow it down and be myself."

Vaughn's playing time in the early going this season has been a hot topic. Though he was thrust into learning a brand new position by the injury to Eloy Jiménez, he figured to be a daily fixture for these White Sox, especially after team brass spent the spring raving about how good he looked at the plate. But between the emergence of Yermín Mercedes at DH and that early bit of trying too hard, as La Russa called it, Vaughn wasn't being treated like an everyday player.

The idea of Vaughn needing to "earn" his at-bats was something fans latched on to. But the best way to earn opportunities is to make the most of however many you're given, and that's what Vaughn has done of late.

"He's showing all of us he's a contributor," La Russa said Thursday. "The reputation that he had coming in is earned. But in the big leagues, he doesn't have very much experience. But he’s really a very heady, stable kind of guy.

"When they grasp something they’re going to embrace it, going to own it."

With his recent hot streak, Vaughn is making the case that he should own a regular spot in the lineup. And as La Russa pointed out, what a lineup it could be if Vaughn continues to produce on a consistent basis.

The White Sox had the American League's most powerful offense during the 2020 campaign, and that group only improved over the offseason. The additions of Vaughn and Adam Eaton combined with bounce-back years for Yoán Moncada, Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal would go a long way toward not just making up for the Jiménez-shaped hole in the middle of the batting order but in increasing the damage this group can do.

In fact, they're already well on their way. As of this writing, the White Sox had the highest OPS in the AL and led the Junior Circuit in runs scored, batting average and on-base percentage.

While World Series sized expectations allow for daily scrutiny, you might not have known things were going that well by the reaction to some of the unsuccessful moments during the season's opening month.

But add a productive Vaughn to a White Sox offense that looked to be the AL's best on paper in the preseason, and the successful moments figure to vastly outweigh the unsuccessful ones, potentially paving the way for the October run the team spent the spring talking about.

"This is a special group," Vaughn said. "I've never been around a team like this, especially at this level. It's special.

"Top to bottom, everybody here has the same mindset: We want to win, and winning is most important thing. Going out there and picking up your teammates. If you have a bad at-bat, you know the next guy behind you has got you. It’s a really good feeling.

"We have a phenomenal pitching staff, and our lineup, if we can bang, it’s going to be pretty special for a few months to come."

So how do these White Sox keep it going? Vaughn seems to have found the key.

"You've got to be a little kid," he said. "It is your job, but if you go out there and have fun, everything works out."

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