Giancarlo Stanton is batting over .300 this season, routinely hitting eye-popping home runs, stealing more bases in the first half of this season than he's ever stolen in a full season, and, if he keeps up his current pace, he will become the Marlins all-time career home runs leader. Oh, and he's only 24 years old.
Yet he plies his trade in front of the fewest fans in the National League.
Many Miami Marlins fans swore off attending games at the beautiful new Marlins Park as a sign of protest of either the deal between the club and the City of Miami, the mega-trade of many of Miami's most productive players to Toronto for young prospects, or just general disillusionment due to the club's lack of competitiveness.
For those few of us who remain regular attenders, we have witnessed the ascension of one of the game's premier players over the last 4+ seasons. Giancarlo Stanton has grown up before our eyes, graduating from a player who once swung as hard as he could at every pitch to one of the most difficult players to get out and a legitimate MVP candidate.
By all accounts, Stanton is far from a prima donna. But with his recent exclusion from the NL All Star starting lineup, even Stanton has to wonder if his efforts would be more appreciated elsewhere. Stanton trade rumors pop up seemingly every other day, and they will continue to pop up until Stanton signs a long-term extension with the Marlins that buys out his arbitration years, which will end in 2017, at which point he will be eligible for free agency.
Stanton has remained relatively tight-lipped about his contract negotiations, effectively buying himself a 1-season reprieve from contract questions by saying before the 2014 season that he "needs a season" to evaluate the club before he makes a decision. This came a little over a year after Stanton famously tweeted: "Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain and simple" following the aforementioned trade with the Toronto Blue Jays following the 2012 season.
One cannot help but wonder if Stanton perhaps sees greener grass in cities with full stadiums and higher turnout for All Star balloting. If so, he may be content to turn down extension offers from the Marlins and try to force a trade to a team where he's comfortable signing a long-term deal.
Still, it would be a shame to see a player of his caliber leave because his brilliance was not appreciated.