Joseph Floyd Vaughan, born March 9th, 1912, was a 5'10" left side infielder from the town of Clifty, AR. He made his first professional appearance with the Wichita Aviators in the "A" level Western League in 1931. He hit .338 over 132 games with 21 doubles, 16 triples, and 21 home runs.
On April 7th, 1932, the Pirates obtained Vaughan, more popularly known as Arky, from Tulsa as part of a minor league working agreement. He played in 129 games as a rookie, hitting .318 with 71 runs scored, 15 doubles, 10 triples (NL seventh), four home runs, 61 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 39 walks, and 26 strikeouts. He finished 23rd in the NL MVP race, and also ranked highly with 13 sacrifice hits (NL eighth), six HBP (NL fifth), a 3.9 WAR (NL 10th), 247 putouts from shortstop (NL fourth), 403 shortstop assists (NL fourth), and 74 double plays turned (NL fifth). He primarily took his cuts hitting third in the order, with a handful of starts in the seventh position. He posted 46 multi hit games, including a five-for-five performance with a double, a run, and an RBI on June 7th, in a 7-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Pittsburgh finished the season in the runner's up position, at 86-68.
Vaughan played in 152 games (NL fifth) in 1933, hitting .314 (NL seventh) with 85 runs (NL seventh), 29 doubles, a league leading 19 triples, nine home runs, 97 RBI (NL fifth), 64 walks (NL fourth), and 23 strikeouts. He ranked second in the NL with a 7.0 oWAR, also ranking with a 1.1 dWAR (NL seventh), a .388 OBP (NL third), a .478 SLG (NL fifth), an .866 OPS (NL fourth), 57 extra base hits (NL seventh), and 24.9 at bats per strikeout (NL 10th). Defensively, he had 310 putouts (NL second), 487 assists (NL third), and 95 double plays (NL second). He batted second through sixth in the lineup, mostly hitting in the five slot. On June 24th, he went five-for-five with a walk, two singles, a double, a triple, a home run, five RBI, and three runs scored in a 15-3 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. He hit a single, a double, and two triples in a 9-8 win over the Boston Braves on July 12th. The Pirates placed second in the NL with an 87-67 record. Vaughan again finished 23rd in the NL MVP Award voting.
In 1934, Vaughan finished 23rd in the NL MVP race for the third season in a row, also earning his first selection to the all-star game. He played 149 games (NL eighth), scoring 115 runs (NL fourth) with 41 doubles (NL third), 11 triples (NL fifth), 12 home runs, 94 RBI (NL ninth), 10 stolen bases (NL eighth), an NL leading 94 Walks with 38 strikeouts. His 6.6 WAR rating ranked him second in the NL. He hit .333 (NL fourth) with a .431 OBP (NL first), slugged .511 (NL sixth), earned a .942 OPS (NL fourth), and made 329 putouts (NL second) with 480 assists (NL second). He batted mostly in the cleanup slot, also appearing at third and fifth in the order. He went four-for-five with two singles, a double, and a home run, scoring three times with two RBI in an 11-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on May 21st. On June 20th, in a
6-5 win over the Braves, he went four-for-four with a walk, a double, and a run with two RBI. The Pirates went 74-76, finishing fourth in the National League.
1935 would see Vaughan play in 137 games, leading the NL with a .385 batting average, a .491 OBP, a .607 SLG, a 1.098 OPS, an OPS+ of 190, a 9.2 WAR, and 97 walks. He earned his second all-star selection and finished third in the NL MVP vote. He scored 108 runs (NL eighth), 34 doubles (NL 10th), 10 triples (NL 10th), 19 home runs (NL eighth), 99 RBI (NL sixth), and only 18 strikeouts. He batted third on 14 occasions, appearing in the cleanup slot the rest of the year. He had 66 multi hit games on the season. On April 29th, he went four-for-five with a walk, three runs, and four RBI in a 12-11 loss to the Chicago Cubs. He hit a double and a home run for six RBI on May 15th in a 20-5 win against the Phillies. Pittsburgh posted an 86-67 record, finishing fourth in the NL.
Vaughan didn't recieve any MVP votes in 1936, but still managed to play in his third straight all-star game. He led the NL with 156 games played, 118 walks, 122 runs, and a .453 OBP. He hit .335 (NL fifth) with 30 doubles, 11 triples (NL seventh), nine home runs, 78 RBI, and 21 strikeouts. He had a 7.7 WAR (NL second), a .444 SLG (NL 10th), a .927 OPS (NL sixth), struck out once every 27 at bats (NL sixth), made 477 SS assists (NL second), and 327 SS putouts (NL first). He batted either fourth or fifth. In a 14-8 win over the Phillies on June 5th, he hit three singles and a triple with three RBI. He went three-for-four with a home run and three RBI on September 17th, as the Pirates defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 14-10. The Bucs went 84-70 to finish fourth in the National League.
In 1937, Vaughan was selected to another all-star game, his fourth in a row. He played in 126 games, hitting .322
with 71 runs, 17 doubles, 17 triples (NL first), five home runs, 72 RBI, 54 walks and 22 strikeouts. He had a 4.7 oWAR (NL seventh), a .394 OBP (NL ninth), an .857 OPS (NL ninth), and a .956 fielding percentage (NL fifth). He played mostly
shortstop with a few games in left field. batting second, third, or fourth. On August 21st, in a 7-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, he hit a single and two triples, scoring two runs with two RBI. Pittsburgh finished at 86-68, 10 games behind the first place New York Giants.
1938 would see Vaughan hit .322 (NL fifth) in 148 games (NL ninth) with 88 runs (NL ninth), 35 doubles (NL fifth), five triples, seven home runs, 68 RBI, 14 stolen bases (NL fourth), 104 walks (NL third) and 21 strikeouts. He again finished third in the NL MVP race, making the all-star team. He earned an 8.6 WAR (NL second), including a career high and NL leading 2.8 defensive WAR. He ranked second in the NL with a .433 OBP, 10th with a .444 SLG, and eighth with an .876 OPS. He batted third through sixth in the order. In a 6-5 victory against the Cubs on April 27th, he went three-for-three with a walk, a home run, and four RBI. In an 11-6 win over the Brooklyn Robins in the top half of a doubleheader on September 22nd, he hit a single and three doubles, scoring a run with three RBI and a stolen base. The Pirates missed the pennant by two games with an 86-64 record, behind the Cubs.
Vaughan played 152 games (NL seventh) in 1939, hitting .306 and scoring 94 runs with 30 doubles, 11 triples (NL fifth), six home runs, 62 RBI, 12 stolen bases (NL sixth), 70 walks (NL ninth), and 20 strikeouts. He accumulated a 5.2 WAR (NL sixth), got on base 258 times (NL sixth), hit 22 sacrifice hits (NL third), and struck out once every 29.8 at bats (NL sixth). On July 19th, in a 10-3 win over the Giants, he hit for the cycle, going five-for-five with four runs and two RBI. In the second game of a twin bill on July 2nd, he collected three RBI with two singles and a triple in an 8-5 triumph over the Cardinals. Pittsburgh posted a 68-85 record.
In 1940, Vaughan led the NL with 156 games played, 689 plate appearances, 113 runs scored, and 15 triples. He hit
.300 with 40 doubles (NL second), seven home runs, 95 RBI (NL eighth), 12 stolen bases (NL eighth), 88 walks (NL fourth) and 25 strikeouts. He recieved enough votes in the NL's MVP balloting to finish 15th, and played his way onto the all-star roster for the sixth time in a row. He posted a 6.4 WAR (NL second amongst position players), and a .393 OBP (NL seventh). Defensively, he made 546 assists (NL first) with 308 putouts at shortstop (NL second). He appeared mostly at cleanup in the batting order, with a few starts batting third. On July 20th, in a 17-6 win over the Braves, he walked, hit a single, a double, and a home run for four total RBI, also scoring three times. He had a single, a double, and a triple with a walk and four RBI on September 8th, winning the first half of a twin bill, 16-14 over St. Louis. Pittsburgh posted an overall 78-76 record.
1941 would be Vaughan's last season with Pittsburgh. He made his eighth straight appearance at the all-star game and garnered a few NL MVP votes (placing 35th). In 106 games, he hit .316 (NL sixth), scored 69 times wtih 20 doubles, seven triples, six home runs, 38 RBI, 50 walks and 13 strikeouts. Despite his shortened season, he still ranked with the league leaders in WAR, with a 4.5 rating (NL ninth), in OBP, at .399 (NL eighth), an .854 OPS (NL ninth), 11 sacrifice hits (NL eighth), and a 28.8 AB/K rating (NL fifth). He batted second through fourth in the order. On May 14th, he went four-for-five with a stolen base, two runs scored and two RBI in a 12-7 win against Philadelphia. On August 27th, he hit two singles and three doubles against the Phillies, stealing a base, scoring four times, and somehow failing to hit an RBI in a 12-2 victory. The Pirates went 81-73 to finish fourth in the NL.
After the 1941 campaign, Vaughan was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Pete Coscarart, Luke Hamlin, Babe Phelps,
and Jimmy Wasdell. The perennial all-star was an easy fan favorite in Pittsburgh, and most of his teammates were saddened by his departure. After two seasons in Brooklyn, he had a disagreement with manager Leo Durocher. According to his biography at SABR.ORG:
On July 10 of that year, manager Durocher suspended pitcher Bobo Newsom for insubordination. Dodgers second baseman Billy Herman remembered, "I was having breakfast together with Augie Galan and Arky Vaughan at the New Yorker Hotel. Vaughan was a guy who always had everybody’s respect, as a ballplayer and as a man. He never said too much, but everybody admired and respected him." Vaughan read a newspaper interview in which Durocher made accusations against Newsom. Herman recalled that Vaughan was quiet, but seemed to be upset by what he read. Later, at the ballpark, Vaughan angrily confronted Durocher, who confirmed that he had given the interview. Herman recalled, "Arky didn’t say another word. He went back to his locker and took off his uniform—pants, blouse, socks, cap—made a big bundle out of it, and went back to (Durocher’s) office.
"Take this uniform," he said, "and shove it right up your ass." And he threw it in Durocher’s face. "If you would lie about Bobo," he said, "you would lie about me and everybody else. I’m not playing for you."
Most of his teammates sided with Vaughan and decided not to play that afternoon against Pittsburgh. Durocher, with help from general manager Branch Rickey, eventually persuaded all the Dodgers—except Vaughan—to play. Arky and Newsom watched the start of the game in street clothes from the right field stands. Rickey asked Vaughan to return to the team, and he did. Arky was back on the bench in uniform before the end of the game.
Vaughan returned after three years to play two more seasons with the Dodgers. In 1947, he was on the team that finally broke the color barrier, helping Jackie Robinson cope with racism and the pressure of a pennant chase as the Dodgers earned the NL pennant. Four years after he retired, he lost his life while trying to save a drowning friend in Lost Lake in California. Somehow, he was never selected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA, instead getting in when the Veteran's Committee inducted him with the Class of 1985.
All-Time Statline: 10 seasons, 1411 games, 1709-for-5268, .324/.415/.42, 936 runs, 291 doubles, 116 triples, 84 home runs, 764 RBI, 86 stolen bases, 778 walks, 227 strikeouts, 61.7 wins above replacement.