Heading into his fourth professional season with the Miami Marlins, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is familiar with what it takes to win. Since his major league debut in 2010, Miami has gone 255-335 and has finished last in the NL East. And Giancarlo Stanton is tired of losing.
"I'm not a loser," Stanton said in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel on Thursday. "That's not what I'm accustomed to. Obviously, it hasn't been ideal so far. I don't want a career like that."
Stanton isn't alone, and no major league baseball player wants to be on a losing squad. Stanton has never been afraid to voice his opinion, and cited the inconsistencies and lack of wins as one of the primary reasons he won't immediately consider an extension with the Marlins. In January, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald noted the Dodgers will aggressively pursue Stanton when he becomes a free agent because of his personal ties to the area and respect for the organization.
Having added Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, Jeff Baker, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to baseball's least productive 2013 lineup is expected to help the team offensively, and a young rotation headed by Jose Fernandez will likely keep the Marlins in most games. After finishing 62-100 a season ago, getting to 82 wins would require a 20 game improvement. The Sentinel noted the biggest wins jump in Marlins history was 15, from 64 to 1999 to 79 in 2000.
Not frequently considered a vocal leader, Stanton said "everyone doing their part, not playing for themselves but taking care of what they need to do and coming together with every piece of that" will help Miami in 2014.
Stanton didn't just question his teammates, but offered an evaluation of himself as a key piece of Miami's lineup and the primary power hitter. He first has to stay healthy, having only appeared in 116 games last year, and become a more productive April hitter. Traditionally slow to start the season, Stanton's .236 April batting average isn't comparable to career .307 mark in May.
"I've noticed I'm one terrible April player," Stanton said. "I don't want to be [known] as a slow starter."
Moving forward, the Marlins are hopeful Stanton can bounce back and that the two parties can beginning discussing a deal next offseason. Manager Mike Redmond, who understands Stanton's frustration, has been impressed with his early spring approach.
"He seems more excited and more energized," Redmond said. "Last year was a tough year and whether he tried to do too much or felt like he had to do everything, that's not fair to him. None of us like to lose. I played on a lot of losing teams too before we won. That makes winning that much sweeter."