Let’s get the last sixteen rolling!
Today we have Mo Vaughn (Harrisonburg 1987) vs Brett Gardner (New Market 2003-04)!
- Mo Vaughn defeated Kevin Kouzmanoff to get here. His writeup: “Mo Vaughn was picked 23rd overall in the 1989 draft by the Boston Red Sox. He made his pro debut at Double-A in ’89, and then spent all of ’90 and part of ’91 in Triple-A before making his major league debut in late June, 1991. Playing mostly first base for the Bosox, Vaughn’s career took off in 1993, when he hit .297/.390/.525 in 633 plate appearances. It was the first of six seasons in a row in which Vaughn was top 25 in MVP voting. He won the MVP in 1995 after pummeling opposing pitchers to the tune of .300/.388/.575 in 550 at-bats, with 28 doubles, 39 home runs, and 126 RBIs. Over his time in Boston, he was an All-Star three times, and won the Silver Slugger once. He spent two years with both the Anaheim Angels and New York Mets in his 30’s. Over his 12 year career, Vaughn hit a total of .293/.383/.523 in over 5,500 at-bats, with 270 doubles, 328 home runs, and 1,064 RBIs. In the Valley League record book, he ranks first in home runs and second in RBIs. He was inducted into the Valley League Hall of Fame in 2019.”
- Brett Gardner defeated Chris Hoiles in the round of 32. His writeup: “There is a legend (myth?) about Brett Gardner in college that sums him up pretty well, I think. The story goes like this: in 2002, Brett Michael Gardner tried to walk on to the College of Charleston baseball team. After a day, or two, supposedly, Gardner did not make the team… but no one told him, officially, that he was cut. So he kept showing up, day after day, working his butt off to improve as a player. No one told him to go away, so he kept showing up. He ended up batting 83 times as a freshman, hitting a pretty anemic .241, with a .325 slugging percentage. You would be forgiven if you thought that the young man had no chance to be a major league baseball player at that point. He won a starting job as a sophomore, though, and showed an ability to get on base (he had a .370 OBP that season), and then steal a base, too, finishing with 28. He improved even more as a junior, and then exploded as a senior, hitting .447/.506/.571 in 273 at-bats, with 85 runs scored (in 63 games), 18 doubles, five triples, two home runs, 38 stolen bases (and he only got caught five times), and a silly 29/18 BB/K ratio. The Yankees drafted him in the 3rd round in 2005, and Gardner began working his way up the minor league chain, step by step, improvement by improvement. He reached the major leagues in late June, 2008, and eventually worked his way into a starting position in the outfield, showing the same patience/speed combo, with superb defense. His best season to date was probably the last one, 2019, in his age-35 season. In 141 games and 491 at-bats, Gardner hit .251/.325/.503, with 86 runs scored, 26 doubles, seven triples, 28 home runs, 74 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases. For his major league career, now spanning 12 seasons and 5,220 at-bats, he’s hit .260/.342/.401, with 68 triples, 124 home runs, 524 RBIs, and 267 stolen bases. He was named an All-Star in 2015, won a Gold Glove in 2016, led the American League in triples in 2013 and stolen bases in 2011, and won a World Series with the Yanks in 2009.”
Vote by going to twitter.com/JohnATVL to vote! (Closes Friday morning)
And by the way, if you want to read much, much more about the 2019 VBL season, be sure to check out the 2019 Valley League Annual! (Or 2015, too, for that matter.)