What fun is writing up fantasy baseball sleepers if they’re all obvious. Sure, I could write up a fantasy baseball sleeper for Ketel Marte, but what fun is that? Just because he could return to a 25-homer, .320 hitter? Am I sneakily writing a Ketel Marte sleeper post right under your nose without you realizing it? No, I’m not sneaky. Are you implying I am because I’m half-Jewish. That’s anti-Semitic, and not cool. Luckily, my people run the media, so we can erase all of this later when it ages really poorly. Andrew Vaughn is the not-so-obvious sleeper. In 127 games and 417 ABs, Vaughn went 15/1/.235 with a 9.7 Launch Angle and 36.1% fly ball rate. How do I put this in the most disrespectful way possible? Andrew Vaughn sucked last year. If you abbreviate Andrew Vaughn as AV and talk about him clubbing for power, well, it would be like AV Club reviewing a film where a large man shudders, exiting a lukewarm bath in Iceland. Not great stuff! That’s what makes Andrew Vaughn a not-so-obvious sleeper, which is better for us. So, what can we expect from Andrew Vaughn for 2022 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Psyche! Before we get into the Andrew Vaughn sleeper post, just wanted to announce that I’ve begun to roll out my 2022 fantasy baseball rankings on our Patreon. It’s an early Xmas miracle! That’s short for Christmas, not me asking for more Malcolm X in Spanish. Anyway II, the Andrew Vaughn sleeper:
Okay, organizing my thoughts on Andrew Vaughn in a Pros and Cons column, and I can only find one Con. Some “Sorta Cons,” but none that can’t be corrected. My one big Con, which I will get out of the way up front, right after this super awkward intro: Tony La Russa. After I drink, I get the Sheets. Does Tony? I hope not. If last year is any indication, Sheets and Vaughn are going to be in some kind of platoon situation. The truly horrific aspect is Vaughn is out vs. righties if Tony goes by straight handedness. That’s so bad for his value I can’t even express it to you properly. I’m mumblecore doing Shoegaze it has me so discombobulated thinking about it. Like Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile, that is a pretty big con. Thankfully, the pros will clear up why that con might not happen as the prose goes further down the rabbit hole.
Andrew Vaughn had the 48th best Barrels/PA%, more or less the same as Ryan Mountcastle, Javier Baez, Jorge Polanco Dansby Swanson, Curtis Jackson Cron, and Nick Castellanos. When Vaughn connected, he connected plenty hard enough to make a difference. He hit the ball 115 MPH, at his hardest, which was the same as Joey Gallo. He averaged 91.1 MPH on his exit velocity, which was 38th in the majors, and tied with Ketel Marte. (This isn’t a Ketel Marte sleeper post, I promise you. Well, at least not yet.) This was a tad harder than Pete Alonso, Adolis Garcia, Corey Seager, and Christian Yelich. It’s hard enough, as they say at Dairy Queen when putting on that cherry topping that I do adore. My kingdom for hard shell cherry topping! Any hoo! Don’t want to make this about why Sheets is sheets, because he’s not, but Vaughn beats Sheets in all these marks, if you were curious.
My biggest concern going into this was Andrew Vaughn’s Launch Angle. It was 9.7 last year and produced 36.1% fly ball rate. Before starting this post, I checked to see if Andrew Vaughn’s minor league Launch Angle and fly balls were better, because he has zero speed, so we need him to hit bazingas to be valuable. The good news is, as you prolly assumed since you’re reading this post, his Launch Angle was better in the minors. So, vs. righties, he had a 15 to 25 degree Launch Angle 19% of the time. Was the same vs. lefties, for what it’s Cronenworth. Was 25 to 35 degrees 13% of the time vs. righties, and 5 to 15 degrees 17% of the time (8% vs. lefties). Only over 35 degrees around 12% for both. (Over 35 degrees is bad, obviously. Those are most likely pop-ups.) So, what does all this mean? His 41% fly ball rate in High-A is likely much closer to his “real” fly ball rate, and he has power for 20% HR/FB. Doing quick math on this brings us to two players we already mentioned as comparable power. No, not Ketel Marte. Curtis Jackson Cron and Adolis Garcia. They’re 32-homer guys.
The big difference between Fiddy Cent Cron and Adolis and the AV Club is Vaughn could hit .280. He was a 60-grade prospect, and 70-grade on the hit tool. They expected him to have more average than power and he’s got easy 32-homer power. Trip down memory lane: Everyone loved him last year for a reason! So, what went wrong? I truly believe he suffered because he didn’t even have one year in the minors. He was making adjustments, just not fast enough. That brings me back to my Michael-Clarke-Duncan-in-The-Green-Mile con. He won’t be platooned because he’s not a platoon player. He was last year because he was overmatched at times, while getting used to the majors. The only worry is he needs another year before breaking out the following year. He could have anywhere from a 24/.300 season to 35/.220 and every iteration in-between. There’s risk here, but the upside is still very real. For 2022, I’ll give Andrew Vaughn projections of 67/26/73/.263/1 in 461 ABs with a chance for a lot more.