Taking a moment to reflect on the first fifty percent: Reflecting on the first half of the Giancarlo Stanton experience

Taking a moment to reflect on the first fifty percent

Giancarlo Stanton’s season was cut short in the last month of the 2014 campaign when he was struck in the face by a fastball thrown by Mike Fiers. Stanton had been in contention for the Most Valuable Player title in the National League and was probably on his way to winning the honor. During the offseason of that season, he signed a record-breaking deal with the Marlins that was for $325 million over 13 years. He ended up playing with the Miami Marlins for just three of those 13 years, but he continued to be one of the most feared hitters in the game. He blasted 27 home runs in only 74 games in 2015, and of course, he won the MVP award with 59 home runs during the 2017 season.

After having a phenomenal 2017, Stanton was sent to the Yankees in December. He still had ten years left on his megadeal at the time of the move. It is now the end of 2022, which means that we are almost halfway into his presumed term with the Yankees. This is a nice time to reflect on where we have been and where we may be headed in the future.

On Thursday, I will be putting up his report card for 2022, which was the worst season (on a rate basis) that he’s ever had. This season will be the worst that he’s ever had. In spite of the significance of his ’22 season, there is a lot to consider at this point, which marks the halfway point of his projected career with the Yankees. Coming off of an outstanding season, he was one of the most exciting additions in recent memory, and the combination of him and another huge phenom, Aaron Judge, was a perfect formula for a fantastic day at the ballpark.

2018 was his first year in New York, and he had a really strong year here. It’s hard not to be underwhelmed after a season in which you hit 59 home runs and won the MVP award, but it’s conceivable that it appeared less impressive than it really was at the time. His first season in pinstripes saw him play in just four games, hit for a 128 wRC+, and provide 4.2 wins above replacement. Was it up to his expectations for 2017? No, but regardless of how you look at it, it was a tremendously successful year.

The next two seasons, 2019 and 2020, are the source of a significant portion of the criticism that is directed on him. Due to injuries, he was only able to participate in 41 games over the course of those two years, but he still managed to post a wRC+ of 142 over that time period. The idea I want to convey here is that he was consistently productive throughout his whole life. Additionally, he carried the squad single-handedly throughout the playoffs of 2020, slashing.308/.387/1.038 with six home runs in seven games played.

The massive right-hander had a pretty complete season in 2021, the most of which was spent in the designated hitter position, and he largely regained much of his previous form. He hit 35 long balls and had a wRC+ of 135 while channeling his inner Stanton. The fact that he was playing the designated hitter position had a negative impact on his 2.4 fWAR, but the productivity was welcome after a string of generally unsuccessful seasons.

On Thursday, I’ll go into more detail on his 2022 campaign, but suffice it to say that it was undoubtedly a low point for him. Even though he had a tough comeback from the disabled list in August, he still finished with a wRC+ of 115, which indicates that he had an above-average overall performance at the bat. During the first half of the season, he retained a significant amount of his original personality.

Stanton, like a lot of other power-first men, suffers a bit of a reputation hit since he is prone to some big slumps, ones that look especially ugly. This is something that hurts the reputation of a lot of other power-first people. However, I believe that Stanton has received inadequate recognition for a major period of his tenure with the Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton has never had a season in his whole career in which he had a significant role in the team’s success yet did not produce positive results.

Since 2018, when he moved to the Bronx, his 129 wRC+ has placed him in the top 30 players in all of baseball among those who had 1500 plate appearances. It is also the second-best performance by any Yankee over that span, after only Judge’s performance. Even though he is just growing older, he is still basically the same player when he is healthy, and his career wRC+ of 140 is on par with players that belong in the Hall of Fame.

Stanton has reached the age of 33, and there is no disputing the fact that his current deal is both pricey and long. He is not going to win the Most Valuable Player award again, but he has always been a good hitter, and I don’t believe there is much reason to doubt that he will continue to be that way in the future. Given the difficulties he has had with his health, it is tough to know what to anticipate specifically as he moves into the second half of his time spent in pinstripes.

In any case, the skill is not something that should ever be questioned. The way that we typically look at him has changed as a result of concerns with injuries as well as some really high expectations. These items, although not entirely devoid of significance, do have the effect of distorting our view of the world. My money is going to be on him staying that immensely feared slugger for the foreseeable future, provided that he maintains his health and is performing at a high level.


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