Memorable All-Stars in (Devil) Rays History: Greg Vaughn (2001)


I should clarify something real quick: just because this series is about "memorable" Rays all-stars, that doesn't necessarily mean they were all good or deserving. Enter stage right, Greg Vaughn.

Considering MLB has a rule that requires them to select one player from each team for the All-Star Team, the Devil Rays have had their fair share of undeserving All-Stars. Heck, it's bound to happen when your franchise has a .399 winning percentage over its first 10 years of existence. But even within this context, Greg Vaughn's selection as an All-Star in 2001 probably ranks within the worst all-star selections in recent memory. Consider:

Player A: 274 PA, 21 HR, .244 BA, .343 OBP, .497 SLG, 115 OPS+
Player B: 331 PA, 15 HR, .330 BA, .399 OBP, .541 SLG, 146 OPS+

These are the first half lines for two players on the Devil Rays in 2001. Any guesses which of them is Greg Vaughn? My lede probably gave it away: Greg Vaughn is Player A, while Fred McGriff is Player B.

McGriff was traded at the end of July* that season, but that doesn't change the fact that a) he was a D-Ray at the All-Star Break, and b) he was infinitely more deserving of an all-star selection than Vaughn. I suppose if all you look at are homeruns, then you'd give the nod to Vaughn, but that's horrible logic considering McGriff was an all-star the previous season and he was having an even better season in 2001. Go figure, right?

*Don't even get me started on how bad a trade that was. Somehow in all my trade research I'd missed that one, but wow, it was a doozy. Fred McGriff for Jason Smith and Manny Aybar? Now that's the sheer definition of a salary dump.

But not only that, Vaughn's selection looks even worse when you consider how he finished the season: 169 PA, 3 HR, .213 BA, .323 OBP, .314 SLG, 76 OPS+. And so began the decent into atrocity: Vaughn performed decently enough for 1.5 of his 3 years with the Devil Rays, but then tanked hard and ended up a far cry away from being worth his $24 million contract. 

Vaughn's final numbers from 2001 astound me. He finished the season with a paltry 1.1 fWAR (or 2.1 rWAR, whichever you prefer), which I have to believe is some sort of record for an All-Star position player (the research isn't working for me right now).  In a year when 36 players finished the season with more than 5 WAR -- and 74 finished with above 3 WAR -- how the heck did Vaughn ever get chosen?

Ahh, the glory days of the Devil Rays. Long live the Hit Show!

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