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2014 Marlins Season Review: Giancarlo Stanton

The Miami Marlins got an MVP-caliber season from the team's best player, as Giancarlo Stanton delivered on an excellent season before a gruesome hit-by-pitch injury ended his year.

Jeff Gross

The Miami Marlins got good solid season from Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna on their way to the best outfield in baseball. But without the presence of Giancarlo Stanton, that title would not belong to them. Stanton put up an MVP-caliber season for the Fish and erased many of the doubts with which Marlins fans were left after last year's struggle of a season. For Miami, this reassured his status as a star and encouraged the Fish to renew efforts to re-sign the slugger to a long-term deal.

Unlike most Stanton seasons, this one actually began hot. While Stanton had struggled in April multiple times in the past, this year he got off to a fantastic start. He hit .269/.342/.565, good for a .378 wOBA, and started off the year with eight home runs to his name. The hot start was surprising given that, each year before this one, Stanton seemed to get off to a slow home run start, only to pick up and accelerate the pace with a ridiculous month of May.

And what a ridiculous May it was.

Stanton went on to put on his second-best May performance ever, as he hit .367/.479/.684 with eight more home runs. That was good for a .491 wOBA that fell just shy of his absurd 2012 May, during which he hit 12 home runs in the month. He did not get to that total, but he did rack up 36 hits and 21 walks while only striking out 22 times. He looked invincible in May, which is becoming par for the course.

But unlike his other years, when injuries seemed to break his stride around June or July, Stanton remained healthy for the entire campaign, and that was a huge boon for both him and the Fish. With the exception of July, each of Stanton's remaining months this past season ended with at least a .390 wOBA. He hit at least four homers in each month, including his injury-shortened September. Fans wanted to see what an uninterrupted campaign from a star-level Stanton would look like, and this was it.

In July, Stanton participated in his first All-Star Game and was the National League's starting designated hitter. He also got a chance to play in the Home Run Derby, where he hit some of the most impressive bombs of the night.

When he got back in the second half, he hit just as well, if not better than in the first half. Stanton knocked out 16 home runs in 225 second-half plate appearances and was well on his way to a 40-homer campaign until his facial injury from the hit-by-pitch ended his season. The Marlins slugger was primed and ready to finish off 2014 with a team record in home runs, but he eventually would have to settle on "just" 37 homers, tying a career best.

Stanton improved in all areas of his game, not just in the vaunted power department. There was much discussion about how the addition of Casey McGehee in the cleanup spot provided Stanton "protection" and more pitches to hit, but that simply was not the case.

Stanton. Season Swing% Contact% Zone%
2013 42 68 41
2014 44 70 41

Despite supposedly more protection, pitchers avoided Stanton in the strike zone at nearly the same rate as they did last season. What Stanton did was swing a little bit more, make a little bit more contact, and that led to fantastic results. In a career high 636 plate appearances, Stanton struck out 170 times, which translated to the lowest strikeout rate of his career. At the same time, thanks to 24 intentional walks, he ended the year with 94 walks and another 14.7 percent walk rate. Those 94 walks were second only to Matt Carpenter in the National League.

Stanton was patient in finding his pitch to hit, and once again he smoked a number of hits, leading to another high BABIP campaign. Stanton hit .353 on balls in play, mirroring his play from 2012. For his career, he owns a .331 BABIP, and it appears that we should be expecting above-average marks like these after seeing him smoke singles like these.

Stanton also improved in the outfield, where a full healthy season (until the September injury) gave him his legs back. After a rough year dealing with a hamstring injury last season, Stanton got back into the game defensively with a rangy year in right field. UZR rated him at just under two runs above average, but DRS saw him as eight runs better, and Baseball Prospectus's FRAA, which is not zone-based, had a 12-run season for Stanton that only added to his MVP credentials.

Overall, Stanton posted one of the best seasons in Marlins history, and that year could still be good enough to win a regular-season MVP award despite the lost final month of the year. It was a fantastic year that ended in disappointing fashion, and it could have been so much more for Marlins fans were it not for that errant pitch from Mike Fiers. But Marlins fans should still rejoice at a spectacular year by a spectacular player.

Oh, and home runs.

Grade: A