Giancarlo Stanton Has Been a Disappointment
ALSO: HANK (THE HAMMER) AARON WOULD HAVE BEEN 89 YEARS OLD TOMORROW
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Did you know…
Center field at old Yankee Stadium was so deep that both the flagpole and the monuments were in fair territory . . .
Joe Adcock was the only man to hit a ball into the distant center-field bleachers of the Polo Grounds (in 1953) until Lou Brock and Hank Aaron did it on successive nights against the hapless New York Mets pitching staff in 1962 . . .
The underrated Adcock also had the only hit on May 26, 1959, when Pittsburgh southpaw Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings against the Braves at Milwaukee County Stadium, only to lose, 1-0, in the unlucky 13th . . .
Aided by the short right field of Ebbets Field, Dodgers icon Duke Snider hit 55 per cent of his home runs in home games . . .
The dimensions of Braves Field, where the Boston Braves played, were so enormous that the New York Giants once hit four inside-the-park home runs in one game . . .
Current Braves manager Brian Snitker, the oldest manager in the National League at 67, is starting his 47th year with the organization with a two-year contract extension.
Different Ways To Look at Giancarlo Stanton's Yankees Career
By Paul Semendinger, Ed.D.
When one looks at Giancarlo Stanton's Yankees career, there is a great deal to examine. There is the good and there is not so good. There have been times when Giancarlo Stanton has been amazing - and there have been times when, well... he hasn't been.
When one looks at the Yankees career (to date) of Giancarlo Stanton, a number of different arguments can be made, all logical and all based upon statistics and data.
In a way, the way one looks at Giancarlo Stanton might be the way one looks at the Yankees, baseball, or statistics in general. There is so much to unpack that it becomes a challenge to even place it all in the context of an article.
But I'll try.
Giancarlo Stanton, first and foremost, is a slugger; a big-time hitter. And, for the Yankees, he has lived up that billing. Giancarlo Stanton's OPS+ over the course of his Yankees career is 129. In four of his five seasons as a Yankee, his OPS+ has actually been over 130. His overall total is brought down only by his poor (for his standards, at least) OPS+ of 113 in 2022. Heading into last season, his OPS+ as a Yankee was 134.
If one were to look at OPS+, a conclusion can be drawn that Giancarlo Stanton has been a very productive slugger for the Yankees, year-in-and-year-out.
But, alas(!), OPS+ doesn't tell the full story. (No statistic does, of course.)
WAR is a statistic that is often used to determine a player's worth. In many ways, WAR is the new industry standard. If a player has a positive WAR, he had a good year. The higher the WAR, of course, the better the player was. If we look at Giancarlo Stanton's career, we can see that he has had a positive WAR as a Yankee. Over five seasons, Stanton's total Baseball-Reference WAR in New York has been 9.1. Nice.
Or is it?
When one looks more closely, it is clear that Giancarlo Stanton, for all the slugging he does, has averaged less than 2.0 WAR per season. That is positive production, but averaging 1.82 WAR each season isn't necessarily impressive - especially for a player who is supposed to be a middle-of-the-order hitter and a slugger who should be helping to lead the Yankees to the championship each year.
In fact, based on WAR, Giancarlo Stanton has basically had two good years as a Yankee and three seasons where he has been only slightly better than an average player. Breaking Stanton's yearly WAR totals shows this clearly:
2018 = 4.4 (a very good year)
2019 = 0.4 (not so much)
2020 = 0.6
2021 = 3.1
2022 = 0.7
Looking at it this way shows that, in three of his five seasons as a Yankee, Giancarlo Stanton has been only slightly better than a replacement player. Basically 82 per cent of his total accumulated WAR was earned in his two best seasons (2018 and 2021). The other years, he just has not provided much value to the team.
So, while Stanton's OPS+ tells one story, his WAR tells a completely different one.
One reason that Giancarlo Stanton's WAR has been low might be the fact that he just does not stay healthy. A great player is only great if he is on the field and producing. And, unfortunately, Giancarlo Stanton just has not been a player who has been available for the Yankees on a regular basis. The following are his games played per season in total and as a percentage of the total number of games played by the team that year:
2018 - 158 games played (97.5%)
2019 - 18 games played (11.1%)
2020 - 23 games played (38.3%)
2021 - 139 games played (85.8%)
2022 - 110 games played (67.9%)
In total, over his Yankees career, Giancarlo Stanton has played in only 63.2 per cent of the Yankees' games. That's not very good. Worse, when one absents his first season, since 2019, Giancarlo Stanton has played in only 53.1 per cent of all games played, or just over half of the games. That is simply, not very good.
Because Stanton has missed so many games, it becomes difficult to look at his yearly totals for things such as home runs because the numbers are depressed. Looking at his home runs on a yearly basis shows three solid years and two poor years (even adjusted for the shortened 2020 season):
2018 = 38 homers
2019 = 3 homers
2020 = 4 homers (pro-rated to 6 based on a full season, with his games missed)
2021 = 35 homers
2022 = 31 homers
Runs Batted In provides another, less-than-great, story. Giancarlo Stanton has reached 100 RBIs once in his Yankees career (2018). He came close in 2021 (97), but otherwise, the numbers are not all that impressive (78 in 2022, 13 in 2019, 11 in 2020).
Stanton's batting average has also been less than stellar. Stanton has never even hit .275 in a full Yankees season. In years where he has played in more than 50 per cent of the games, his batting averages have been:
2018 = .266
2021 = .273
2022 = .211
For a player who was brought to the team as a superstar, his overall performance has been lacking.
Adding to the overall lack of greatness has been the fact that he has not played the field well. His overall Defensive WAR has been in negative figures in each season he's been a Yankee.
Of course, for the Yankees, it is often about the post-season. The question one might ask is "How has Stanton done in the post season?" Supporters might note that he has hit .260 with 11 homers in 9 post season series. Those are nice numbers. But, when one looks closer, it becomes less impressive. It is clear that in Wild Card games, Giancarlo Stanton is amazing (.429 with 4 homers in 4 games), but in the other series (.231, 7 homers in 6 games), he has been less so.
In conclusion, one can look at Giancarlo Stanton's statistics as a Yankee and draw multiple conclusions. For me, the numbers speak to a player who has vastly under-performed. Stanton was brought to the Yankees to be great. Overall, he hasn't been great. In one season, his first, he was very good. In the other seasons, he has mostly been a slightly better-than-average player when he has played, but the significant amount of games he has missed has also negatively impacted the team.
Baseball Reference projects Giancarlo Stanton to hit .239/26/73 in 2023 as a 33-year-old ballplayer in 2023. That feels just about correct. Good, not great, and overall disappointing. When the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton, they thought they were acquiring a superstar. He hasn't been that. The concern, going forward, is that Giancarlo Stanton, at 33 years old, is about to enter his decline years.
As a Yankee, the past wasn't particularly great for Giancarlo Stanton. I am concerned that his future will be even less so.
Dr. Paul Semendinger is the author of The Least Among Them, Scattering the Ashes, and the soon-to-be-released From Compton to the Bronx, the autobiography of Yankees great Roy White. Paul can be found on Twitter @DrPaulRSem. He also runs the Yankees site Start Spreading the News.
Happy Birthday to The Late, Great Hank Aaron
By Dan Schlossberg
Had he not passed away two years ago, Hank Aaron would have turned 89 tomorrow.
Ironically, he was born only one day ahead of Babe Ruth, whose long-standing career home run record he topped on April 8, 1974.
Ruth, a left-handed pitcher whose prowess at the plate forced his conversion to position player, had records for both a season (60) and career (714) before Aaron flew past him and beyond, finishing with 755. The one-season record fell too, with Roger Maris hitting 61, Aaron Judge hitting 62, and a few PED-bloated players hitting even more.
Barry Bonds hit 73 — the only time in his career he hit as many as 50 — and Mark McGwire hit 70. Let’s not forget Sammy Sosa, the only man to hit at least 60 in three different seasons.
None of the above could hold a candle to Hank Aaron — especially now that he merits 89 of them.
For starters, he traveled 12 miles further around the bases on his hits than any other batter in baseball history.
The lifetime leader with 1,477 extra-base hits and 2,297 runs batted in, he also had the most total bases with 6,856 — more than 700 ahead of runner-up Stan Musial at 6,134.
Forget Willie, Mickey & the Duke. Mantle was not a .300 hitter, finishing at .298, Mays never led his league in runs batted in, and Snider’s 407 home runs were hardly Hall of Fame worthy (sorry, Dodger fans).
A modest man with herculean accomplishments, Hank would have won four MVPs had he played in New York or Los Angeles. He won the trophy in 1957 after hitting the pennant-winning home run, then hit three more to accompany a .393 batting average in the wining World Series against the Yankees. Even then, pitcher Lew Burdette won the Chevrolet given to the MVP of the seven-game classic after hurling three complete-game wins, two of them shutouts.
In 1959, when Aaron hit a career-best .355, and 1963, when his final marks were .310 with 44 homers, 130 RBI, 201 hits, 121 runs, 37 steals, and a .977 OPS, writers ignored him in the MVP voting, choosing Ernie Banks of the fifth-place Cubs and the more spectacular Sandy Koufax, respectively.
Aaron also deserved the honor in 1971, when he hit .327 with a career-best 47 homers, 118 RBI, and a 1.079 OPS at the ripe old age of 37.
A model of consistency, he never hit more than 47 home runs. His previous peak was 44, matching his uniform number, which he did four times. He had eight 40-homer seasons, his last one at age 39 in 1973, the year before he broke Ruth’s record. That same season, he joined Darrell Evans and Davey Johnson to become the first trio of teammates to hit at least 40 home runs in the same season.
Aaron and Eddie Mathews hit the most home runs (863) during the time they were teammates while Hank and Tommie Aaron had the most home runs (768) by brothers. In one 1962 game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Tommie pinch-hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth. The next three hitters reached before Hank hit a game-winning grand-slam.
Aaron and Mathews homered in the same game 75 times, including the 1961 game when a quartet of Milwaukee Braves became the first foursome to hit four in a row (along with Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas).
Hank had more walks (1,402) than strikeouts (1,383), never fanned 100 times in a season, and won all three components of the Triple Crown, though not in the same season. He had two batting titles, four RBI crowns, four home run crowns, and led the National League in extra-base hits five times, total bases eight times, slugging and doubles four times each, runs and OPS three times each, and hits twice.
His only serious injury came in 1954, his rookie year, when he broke his leg sliding in September and wound up playing just 122 games. He finished with 13 home runs, finishing fourth in a Rookie of the Year race won by Wally Moon.
A notorious wrist hitter who was so relaxed at the plate that it looked like he was falling asleep, Aaron had just one inside-the-park homer — on May 10, 1967 — but victimized a future Hall of Famer and U.S. Senator, Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Aaron was also a team player, willing and able to play anywhere. He appeared at six different positions for the Braves, with 210 games at first base, 43 at second, seven at third, 315 in left, 308 in center, and 2,174 in right.
While it’s true Ruth finished with a significantly higher batting average, conditions changed dramatically from his heyday to Hank’s. Consider the fact that the overall major-league average fell from .282 at Ruth’s peak to .252 at Aaron’s — thanks to things like night games, coast-to-coast travel, and the advent of relief pitching.
So Aaron’s NL mark of .310 can be favorably compared to Ruth’s .342 after the 30-point differential is factored in.
A cross-handed hitter in the minors, Aaron adopted a more traditional approach once he arrived in the big leagues. “He wasn’t a classic hitter and young players shouldn’t copy him,” Mathews once said. “He hit off his front foot — a flat-footed stance in a batting textbook. It sounds wrong to say that the man who broke Babe Ruth’s record had a fundamental batting flaw. Let’s just say Hank Aaron hit differently than anyone else.”
Out of the limelight in both Milwaukee and Atlanta, Aaron was never considered a threat to Ruth until he saw Atlanta Fulton County Stadium and decided to become a pull hitter. He also had to overcome a deluge of hate mail as a black man chasing the hallowed record of a white legend.
“In my mind, a hitter is always able to hit but first he must be fit and able to get on the field to play,” he said.
On April 8, 1974, he broke The Babe’s record in the fourth inning of the fourth game in the fourth month in a year that ended in 4, against a pitcher wearing a matching 44 uniform number (Al Downing). He led the NL in home runs four times and had four 44-homer seasons, including one in which he tied another No. 44, Willie McCovey.
You can’t make this up.
An All-Star a record 25 times, Aaron also won three Gold Gloves. What he didn’t win — but what he richly deserved — was unanimous election to the Hall of Fame.
Nine moronic voters left his name off their 10-man ballots. Completely. Stupidly. Perhaps with racism in their hearts.
Henry Louis Aaron, arguably the best player in baseball history and certainly the best I ever saw in 54 years of covering the only sport that really matters, got 97.8 per cent.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ also writes baseball for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Memories & Dreams, and other outlets. A baseball historian, he’s also the author of 40 books and a frequent guest speaker. His e.mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Minute Maid Park in Houston is a joke. Left field looks like a Little League park — those dimensions are so unfair to pitchers. If you judge a right-handed hitter because he hits home runs there, it’s ridiculous.”
— Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Kaat, Class of 2022
President Kennedy’s grandfather, then the mayor of Boston, threw out the first pitch when Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912 . . .
Fenway Park has the smallest foul territory in the majors . . .
Normally considered a graveyard for left-handers because the looming Green Monster, Hall of Fame southpaw Jim Kaat said he enjoyed pitching there and frustrating righty batters with low and outside sinkers that became groundouts . . .
The 1941 Chicago Cubs were the first team to hire a ballpark organist . . .
Wrigley Field hosted 5,687 consecutive day games before its first night game on 8-8-88 (rained out in progress, changing the official date to 8-9-88) . . .
Why hitters love them: Wrigley Field holds the record for most runs scored in a game (49) and the second-most (45) but Fenway is first for runs scored in an inning (17), runs scored in the first inning by an American League team (14), and runs scored in the first inning before recording an out (10).
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