An enormous power hitter during the 1990s, Mo’s big body kept his career brief as Boston’s massive slugger only played a dozen seasons at the Major League level. Forced to retire early due to chronic knee problems, Mo nevertheless mashed balls with the best of them. Big Mo posted six 30-or-more homerun seasons and had just as many 100+ RBI campaigns.
A first round pick by the Red Sox in ’89, Mo was called up to the parent club in 1991 to supply first base incumbant Carlos Quintana, a high average hitter with limited power, with a little job insecurity. Mo took Quintana’s job in 1992 not by outperforming him but due to Carlos losing the season to injury. Vaughn struggled mightily his first year as a regular before he established himself as a legitimate star in 1993.
In Mo’s breakout ’93 campaign he posted the first of his six career 100 RBI seasons. The big first baseman showed what would be his trademark throughout his career: high slugging averages coupled with high on-base percentages. After the strike shortened 1994 season, Mo won the AL MVP Award in 1995. That year Vaughn led the junior circuit with 126 RBI while blasting 39 homers and slugging at a .575 clip. The big basher carried the BoSox to the postseason in ’95 but his booming bat was held hitless to Cleveland pitching in the Division Series.
Mo put together his best year in 1996 when he led American League first basemen with 143 RBI. He had terrific peripheral numbers with a .326 batting average and a robust .420 on-base percentage. An All-Star for the second time in his career, Mo was the only Major League first baseman to reach 200 hits. He tried to single-handedly carry the BoSox offense in 1997 but failed to reach 100 RBI despite a solid .315 batting average and another .420 on-base percentage.
Vaughn’s big bat paved the road to October in 1998 for Boston. During the regular season, Mo was the only American League first baseman to post 100 runs scored and 200 base hits. Although Mo redeemed his initial October failures with a .412 batting average in the ’98 Division Series, his Red Sox still fell to Cleveland.
Granted free agency after the season, Mo cashed in and signed with the Anaheim Angels. Although his batting average, slugging average and on-base percentage were all down, he nevertheless clubbed 33 homeruns and reached the 100 RBI plateau out west. The big man’s final good season came in 2000 when he socked 36 homers and drove in 117 runs.
His big body started to get the best of him in 2001. At the ripe age of 33, Mo missed the entire season to injury. When he was able to work his way back to the diamond, the Angels traded him to the Mets for veteran pitcher Kevin Appier. Mo had one healthy year with the Mets but his numbers weren’t close to their Boston measures. He missed most of 2003 to injury and was unable to get in game shape in 2004 which led to his retirement.
G 1,512/R 861/H 1,620/2B 270/3B 10/HR 328/RBI 1,064/SB 30/BB 725/SO 1,429/BA .293/SA .523/OBP .383