The Miami Marlins wanted Giancarlo Stanton to get a chance at the All-Star Game festivities starting this Monday, but it hinged on Stanton feeling well after playing Saturday and Sunday. But Stanton was pulled in the third inning after a long fly out forced him to run a good distance and he singled and was on base in the second inning. Rather than risking further problems, Stanton and the team decided to have arthroscopic knee surgery to remove the "loose bodies" in his knee.
The procedure will be performed at 7 a.m. ET on Sunday by Marlins physician Dr. Lee Kaplan. Recovery is expected to be four to six weeks, but more will be known after the procedure.
"Stanton is going to have surgery tomorrow," manager Ozzie Guillen announced after the Marlins lost, 3-2, to the Cardinals. "Hopefully, he doesn't lose that many days. I don't know. It's up to how he comes out of the surgery. It might be a month, six weeks. Hopefully it's less."
This is a severe blow to any potential chances for a Marlins race to a playoff berth, as Stanton was far and away the team's best player and hitter and will now miss at least a month recovering from knee surgery. Stanton had accrued three Wins Above Replacement (WAR) via most WAR-type metrics, which was first on the team by a large margin. Without the Marlins' most valuable player, the dim glimmer of hope that the Fish had to make a run for the second Wild Card is fading quickly.The Marlins do have options, which is surprising given the loss of the team's most important player. Emilio Bonifacio is scheduled to return to center field by the end of the All-Star Break, and Stanton's injury opens a spot for the red-hot Justin Ruggiano to stay in the lineup in right field. Prior to that, Ruggiano would have seen spot play behind outfielders Stanton, Bonifacio, and Logan Morrison. Now it is much more likely that Ruggiano will get a chance to prove that his .405/.477/.770 (.501 wOBA) is not entirely fluky.
Still, the likelihood of the Marlins performing well over the next month and a half or so without a critical cog is going to be difficult. Stanton is projected to add 2.8 wins to the team above a replacement level talent. Assuming Ruggiano is at least that good, if we lost 150 PA of Stanton's performance, that is a solid 1.4 wins lost due to this injury in a month and a half. It does not sound like much, but any wins lost without return could signal doom for the Marlins' chances at a Wild Card spot.
Could this push the team into "sell" mode with their free agents, particularly righty Anibal Sanchez? This is still unlikely given the ownership's desire to maintain a positive attitude throughout the season despite yet another setback to the team's goals. This is a tough short-term loss that could leave the team without much hope for a playoff berth, but the ownership group may still want to keep guys like Sanchez around just to save face instead of concerning about a rebuild. Unless the team is planning on re-signing Sanchez, Stanton's injury should have them at least considering a move for the right price.