Maurice Samuel 'Mo' Vaughn (born December 15, 1967 in Norwich, Connecticut), nicknamed "Hit Dog", was a Major League Baseball player from 1991 to 2003. Vaughn won the American League MVP award in 1995 and was a key factor in the Boston Red Sox's 1995 and 1998 playoff teams.
He was noted for "crowding the plate"; his stance was such that his front elbow often appear to be hovering in the strike zone, which intimidated pitchers into throwing wide and outside. Because of Vaughn and others like Barry Bonds, the MLBA instituted regulations in 2001 that changed the strike zone from a low outside box, to a high inside one; the boundaries used decades ago. The new regulations also banned hitters from using hard protective gear, which was letting them get closer to plate.
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Vaughn became the centre of the Red Sox's line-up in 1993, hitting 29 home runs and contributing 101 RBIs, but his reputation as one of the most feared hitters in the American League wasn't grounded until the strike-shortened 1995 season when Vaughn hit 39 home runs with 129 RBIs and a .326 average. He also pitched in with 11 stolen bases, not bad for a man of his size. His efforts, which led the Red Sox to the playoffs (only to lose to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series), were rewarded with the American League MVP award.
Vaughn continued to improve over the next several seasons, batting .315 or higher from 1996 to 1998 and averaging 40 home runs and 118 RBIs. The Red Sox lost in the American League Division Series in 1998, once again to the Cleveland Indians.
While he hit well for Anaheim when he played — he hit 30-plus homers and knocked in over 100 runs in both 1999 and 2000 — Vaughn was plagued by injuries in 1999 and didn't play a single game in the 2001 season. Vaughn was nevertheless seen as a viable middle of the line-up producer prior to the 2002 season and was traded to the New York Mets on December 27, 2001 for Kevin Appier.
Vaughn was unable, however, to resurrect his glory days of Boston or kick the injuries which had been nagging him. In 2003, after a poor 2002 season, Vaughn played only 27 games because of a left knee injury. He was advised by several doctors that attempting to play baseball again might lead to disability. The diagnoses successfully put a close to Vaughn's career, a somber way to go for a man who had once garnered so much fear in the batter's box.
- All-Star (1995, 1996)
- American League MVP award winner (1995)
- Finished 4th in American League MVP voting (1998)
- Finished 5th in American League MVP voting (1996)