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2014 Marlins Season Preview: Giancarlo Stanton's 2014 year

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The biggest positive to come out of the 2014 Miami Marlins is the fantastic year that Giancarlo Stanton had and the effect that season had on him and the organization going forward.

Mike Ehrmann

The Miami Marlins had plenty to be happy about in 2014, but the most important thing to mention, and the first thing that will get recognition this year, is the play of Giancarlo Stanton. Many words have been used on Fish Stripes to describe Stanton's excellent season, which featured many, many home runs and was one of the best Marlins seasons of all time. Those descriptors are essentially the same as we have reached the post-mortem period of 2014, but what cannot be understated is just how valuable this season was to the fans, to Stanton, and to the Marlins' organization in terms of impact beyond the year.

The Stats

Statistically, the 2014 season was Stanton's best as a Marlin. He was able to reach a new career high in plate appearances with 638, though he only played 145 games. Still, that represented his second-highest total in his career, behind only the 2011 season, which saw him suffer an injury earlier in the year. This time, Stanton stayed healthy throughout much of the campaign and was only injured by a freak hit-by-pitch by Mike Fiers.

When Stanton was on the field, he dominated opposing pitchers. He hit .288/.395/.555 (.403 wOBA), and compared to the league standard in the increasingly depressed run environment of 2014, this was his best hitting campaign in his career. That means it beat out the 37-homer season he put up in just 500-plus chances in 2012.

That Stanton was all power, with a slugging percentage of .608. This year, Stanton did it not just with strength, but with an increasing amount of patience. After swinging at 48 percent of pitches in 2012, including 35 percent of them out of the zone, Stanton reduced that rate down to 44 percent this year and 30 percent out of the zone. His swing rate in the strike zone is less reduced, meaning Stanton has grown a measure of patience and selectivity and is not just leaving the bat on the shoulders throughout the game.

When Stanton did swing, the terror was back, however. After a down power year, Stanton put up a great display of strength at the plate. His .267 ISO is right alongside his career mark of .269, and he ranked third in baseball among qualified players in ISO, behind only Mike Trout and Edwin Encarnacion. He led the National League in home runs and was tied for second in the majors with Chris Carter of the Houston Astros with 37, which also matches Stanton's career high.

The Encouragement

The numbers are obvious, but what is not obvious is how this season has affected the parties involved. Before the 2014 campaign, talks between the Marlins and Stanton regarding an extension seemed dubious at best and unlikely to occur. On Stanton's side, he seemed unhappy after a down 2013 campaign and an ugly roster around him. For the Marlins, there were a lot of questions about health and play from a guy who only once put up a truly dominant season. Marlins fans were beginning to feel like Stanton was slipping away, much like Miguel Cabrera did.

The 2014 season seemingly changed all of that. Homer after homer, win after win, the Marlins and Stanton seemed to build up goodwill with each other. It seemed Stanton was "all-in" on Miami after a competitive start, just one season after being extremely frustrated with the franchise. Even though he said that "five months doesn't change five years," the Fish were seemingly growing more optimistic by the month. At first, it seemed Miami was not confident in re-signing the slugger, but after properly managing the Stanton face injury, the Marlins are not only confidently saying he will be here in 2015, but that contract talks may start as soon as November.

A year ago, it seemed impossible to be discussing an honest contract talk, and in the end, Stanton may still fail to re-sign. It would not be the first time Miami made proclamations like this and failed to back them up and went in another direction within months. The 2011 fire sale went the same way, with the Marlins publicly wanting to build around Stanton and Jose Reyes before trading almost all of their 2012 free agent crop. But this talk is still promising and is important headway towards a real long-term extension.

In the end, the 2014 season for Giancarlo Stanton will be memorable not just for the home runs, or the show at the Home Run Derby, or the MVP-level season he put up. Marlins fans got to be happy about baseball again after suffering through an awful season, and those fans were all smiles. And surprisingly enough, so were Stanton and the Marlins.