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Is Andrew Vaughn an All-Star for the White Sox?

by Adam Kaplan

Andrew Vaughn is in the midst of having an electric offensive season for the Chicago White Sox thanks to some improvements he made heading into 2022. Vaughn is currently slashing .333/.382/.505 with seven home runs, good for a 156 wRC+. He is obviously one of the best offensive players for the White Sox. As such, the calls amongst the fanbase to send him to the All-Star Game are getting louder.

This begs the question, does Andrew Vaughn actually deserve to be an All-Star?

Who “deserves” to be an All-Star can be a loaded question. Despite how a player is performing, if enough fans vote for a player to start in the All-Star Game, that player is an All-Star no matter what. Further, if Dusty Baker (the current Houston Astros manager who will be the manager of the AL in the All-Star Game in 2022) selects Andrew Vaughn as a reserve, Vaughn will be an All-Star no matter what.

However, that’s not what this exercise is. Let’s use objective measures to see if Andrew Vaughn truly is one of the best players in the American League and worthy of a spot in the All-Star Game.


Qualifications

Before we analyze Andrew Vaughn, we need to set up parameters for what it takes to become an All-Star and what the general baseball fanbase uses to determine who “deserves” to be selected for the game. By this logic, the main determining factor is offensive output. Historically, baseball fans do not care as much about a player’s defense. This was part of the knock used against Yoán Moncada in 2021. Despite having an fWAR deserving of being an All-Star candidate, the Sox third baseman seemingly didn’t sniff a selection since a lot of his value was driven by his elite defense.

While that was frustrating for fans of Moncada, that works well in Andrew Vaughn’s favor since he’s currently one of the worst defenders in baseball. Pursuant to Baseball Savant and Outs Above Average (OAA), Vaughn is the worst left fielder in the majors.

Outside of looking at a player’s offense over his defense, we also need to consider a player’s position. The All-Star Game is not just a collection of the best 20+ hitters per league, the roster is made up of the best two or three players per position. In 2021, the AL carried three designated hitters and six outfielders (LA’s Jared Walsh was technically listed as a first baseman, but played left field during the actual game).

Lastly, we are only looking at 2022 stats accrued so far.


Corner Outfielders

Andrew Vaughn has played 20 games in right, 17 games in left, 10 games at designated hitter, and five games at first base. The defensive versatility helps Vaughn’s chances of earning a roster spot in the All-Star Game. While his actual defense may be poor, he does have the games played to at least make a legitimate argument to earn a roster spot as a corner outfielder. So let’s take a look at where Vaughn ranks statistically amongst the American League’s best corner outfielders:

Right Fielders

Left Fielders

One of the best statistics to use when determining a player’s overall worth offensively is weighted runs created plus (wRC+). This statistic uses takes Runs Created (a player’s overall contribution in terms of total runs) and adjusts it for ballpark and era. For example, it’s easier to hit in Coors Field than in Petco Park, and wRC+ adjusts for this difference. Further, it takes into account that offense and power output overall in 2022 is down across the league overall.

By wRC+, Andrew Vaughn absolutely deserves to be an All-Star. While he may not deserve to start, those honors will probably go to Aaron Judge of the Yankees and a Houston Astro, but Vaughn has statistically been one of the best corner outfielders offensively. He may not have the power of someone like Judge or Yordan Alvarez, but he’s been just as good as almost everyone else in the American League.


Designated Hitter

On MLB’s official ballot, Andrew Vaughn is listed as the White Sox’s designated hitter. That’s because these selections are based on pre-season expectations even though Vaughn has only played 10 games at designated hitter. Regardless, let’s take a look at where Vaughn ranks among the AL’s best designated hitters:

Because Andrew Vaughn has not played many games at designated hitter, he does not have enough at-bats to become a qualified player. So we’re not off to a great start to say Vaughn deserves to represent the AL as a designated hitter. Regardless, wRC+ stays constant, no matter the position. As such, Vaughn’s 156 wRC+ would rank him third in this list, behind J.D. Martinez and ahead of Byron Buxton.

While Vaughn may be a borderline AL representative for the designated hitter position, this chart does help make the argument that Vaughn should actually be the American League’s starting left fielder. Houston’s Yordan Alvarez has made a darn good argument that he deserves to start for the AL in the All-Star Game. He’s slashing .311/.403/.623, with 18 home runs, good for the best wRC+ in the American League at 193. On MLB’s ballot, you can vote for Alvarez at DH. Further, he has played 32 games at DH and 27 in left field. That means, if Yordan Alvarez is the AL’s starting designated hitter, Andrew Vaughn has the best wRC+ among the remaining qualified left fielders.


Conclusion

One of the qualifications to the All-Star argument was looking solely at offense. However, if fans or otherwise wanted solely to look at WAR, then an argument that Andrew Vaughn deserves to be an All-Star falters. Again, partially because Vaughn is not particularly good on defense. Say you compared Vaughn to someone like Minnesota’s Byron Buxton. Both have an analogous wRC+ (153 vs. 156), but their fWARs are not close (2.5 vs. 0.9). That’s because Buxton is a far superior defender. As such, the All-Star argument for Vaughn crumbles a bit.

Even still, Andrew Vaughn absolutely deserves to be an All-Star. His offense cannot be overlooked. Considering how much weight the All-Star Game has historically given to offense, AV has earned his trip.

Andrew Vaughn is one of the best offensive players in the American League. Unfortunately, he has an uphill battle toward becoming a starter. Despite having the resume to be the AL’s starting left fielder, because Vaughn is listed at DH on the official ballot, he most likely will not have enough write-in votes to skyrocket him to be the leading vote getter at left field.

That being said, Vaughn has made a compelling argument to be a reserve player, and if Dusty Baker doesn’t select him as one, we riot.


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Featured Image: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

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