So long, Mo
First, I'd like to apologize for my absence the past couple days. I've been very busy and unable to sit down and get a post written. Today, I still don't have any real outstanding analysis or anything, but I'd like to talk about something that is not much of a surprise at all. According to WFAN, Mo Vaughn is not retiring, but he will not be able to play at all in 2004 and he probably won't be able to play baseball again.
In recent years, Vaughn's career has turned into a joke, but I'm very appreciative of what Vaughn did for the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox took Vaughn in the first round of the 1989 draft, and he made his major-league debut two years later.
Vaughn's first two seasons in the big leagues were not good as he hit .244/.331/.389 (.719) with 17 homers, 63 runs and 89 RBI in 187 games. Then, in 1993, he turned into the hitter who would anchor the Boston lineup for the next six years. He played 152 games and hit .297/.390/.525 (.915) with 29 homers, 86 runs and 101 RBI.
From 1995 through 1998, he was one of the most feared hitters in the American League, playing at least 140 games each season while posting an OPS+ of at least 145 each year. In those four seasons, he made the All-Star game three times, he finished in the top five in MVP voting three times, he finished in the top 10 in batting three times, he finished in the top six in OBP three times, he finished in the top 10 in SLG four times, he finished in the top 10 in OPS four times, he finished in the top 10 in runs twice, he finished in the top four in hits twice, he finished in the top five in total bases three times, he finished in the top 10 in homers four times, he finished in the top three in RBI twice, he finished in the top 10 in walks twice, he finished in the top 10 in extra-base hits three times, he finished in the top eight in times on base three times and he finished in the top 10 in OPS+ four times.
If you didn't feel like reading through that whole list, let me summarize it for you. From 1995 through 1998, Mo Vaughn was one of the best hitters in the American League. And he played for my favorite team. And I loved it.
He was this big, huge, intimidating guy, but he was as friendly as could be. My dad liked to call him a big teddy bear, but he was a teddy bear who could crush a baseball.
I remember being awed by the fact that Vaughn could contend for a batting title with that swing of his. That uppercut swing that spent so little time in the strike zone that it required perfect timing looked like a sure recipe for a low average and lots of strikeouts. Vaughn did strike out a lot, but he was able to hit .315 from 1993 through 1998.
I remember Vaughn leading the Red Sox to the playoffs for the first time in 1995, and then going hitless as Boston was swept in three games by the Cleveland Indians. And I remember three years later when Vaughn got his next chance in the playoffs, against that same Indians team, and smacked two home runs and drove in seven runs.
I remember the Opening Day walkoff home run that is alluded to on Vaughn's Baseball-Reference page.
I remember a lot of times when Vaughn made me a very happy Red Sox fan, and I'm truly appreciative of everything he did for the franchise over those six seasons.
I was sad to see Vaughn leave Boston after 1998. Even though I knew it would have been foolish for Boston to give him a contract similar to the one that Anaheim gave him, I was sad to see him go. And I'm sad that his career took such a turn for the worse, and that it now appears to be over.
He was a very, very good player over a six-year stretch with my favorite team. I hope his career is remembered for that and not for the fat jokes that dominated the end of his career.