Chicago White Sox: 3 players who surprisingly stepped up big time

(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /
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Chicago White Sox, Andrew Vaughn
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

Andrew Vaughn

Andrew Vaughn was incredible at times for the 2021 Chicago White Sox.

The White Sox did not set up Andrew Vaughn for success in 2021. Despite just 55 minor league games under his belt, he was slated to be the White Sox primary designated hitter when the season started.

Then disaster struck. Eloy Jimenez injured himself in spring training trying to rob a home run leaving the White Sox without a left fielder. That shifted Andrew Vaughn to left field, a position he had never played before.

Learning to hit major league pitching is hard enough as it is. Hitting major league pitching with limited minor league experience is even harder. Throw in the wrinkle of learning an entirely new position and you got yourself a tough task as a rookie. Vaughn rose to the challenge.

Despite learning to play an entirely new position while simultaneously learning how to hit in the big leagues, Vaughn thrived in left field. He turned himself into an above-average defender with a highlight reel filled with multiple diving catches and a home run robbery. Vaughn recorded 132 putouts in left along with three outfield assists.

Not only has Vaughn been a great left fielder but he has been a versatile defender. Tony La Russa played him across the diamond. The 23-year old saw 18 games in right field, 15 at first base, one at second base, and two at third base.

The rookie was also fourth on the team with 15 home runs. He also led all White Sox rookies with 48 RBIs. Vaughn finished the year with a .235/.309/.705 slash line. While the average will only continue to get higher as he matures as a hitter, the clutch gene is already there.

Vaughn hit a game-tying home run off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning on May 23rd and hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals a day later. On June 8th, he hit a game-tying home run in the seventh inning in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. In his next at-bat, he hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.

During the postseason Vaughn had two hits in five at-bats including a double and an RBI. Andrew Vaughn played a critical role by providing patchwork for the defense and giving the bottom of the order some pop against left-handed pitching.