The Miami Marlins only once have had a slugger reach the 40-homer mark in a single season. In 1996, Gary Sheffield hit 42 home runs in what turned out to be a career year for the former Marlins great. Since then, no other Marlin has reached that mark, from Carlos Delgado (33 in 2005) to Dan Uggla (topped out at 33 in 2010) to Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton's career high heading into this season was the 37 he hit in 2012 in a monster year in which he was injured and missed a month of playing time and still reached a career-high in homers, slugging percentage, and wOBA.
But this year has been different. Stanton has remained healthy all year long, made the All-Star team, and is a legitimate MVP candidate. Part of the reason about the excitement for his season is the fact that his power has returned from a down year in 2013. Despite the fact that pitchers are being just as careful against Stanton as they were last year, he is back to launching homers at an excellent pace. After his home run per fly ball (HR/FB) rate dipped to a career low 21.8 percent last year, he brought it back up to acceptable (for Stanton) levels this year.
But will Stanton reach that 40-homer mark this season? After a quiet July that included a long homerless skid, Stanton got back on track, He hit his first homers on the 18th and 19th of the month, then waited until the last two days to tack on two more. Since then, it has been a bonanza in August. He led the month off with a homer, then hit five in the last five days, including a ridiculous two-homer night yesterday evening.
That puts his total at 31 home runs in 514 plate appearances. This is obviously behind the eight ball compared to 2012, but actually right on cue with his career home run rate. Stanton has hit homers in 5.9 percent of his plate appearances in his career, and that pace would have left him with just over 30 homers in this time.
So if he continues that pace for the rest of the season, how likely is Stanton to hit 40 home runs? We dusted off the old binomial probabilities calculator and ran the numbers with a 5.9 percent rate and 164 plate appearances remaining for the season. The odds of Stanton hitting at least nine home runs given his career rate is 63.6 percent. That means that, at this point, we are likely to finally see another Marlin hit 40 home runs in a single season, just one year after we thought we would have that in Stanton in 2013.
But there's more. What are the odds Stanton breaks Sheffield's Marlins record 42 homers? Oddly enough, adding just two home runs to the equation makes things a lot more dicey. Stanton's career rate had him getting to just under 40 home runs in the allotted playing time. That means his odds were essentially 50/50 to hit nine or fewer homers or to go over the threshold. Just adding a few more homers makes the odds a lot less likely; Stanton is at only a 26.2 percent chance to break Sheffield's record this season. He may have two months remaining, but even Giancarlo Stanton is a human, and humans do not usually hit 12 home runs in two months. Even at his career rate, 12 home runs would take an average of 200 plate appearances.
A 26.2 percent chance to break a franchise record is still good odds, however, and a hot month of August would certainly finish it off. Stanton does have two months in his career with 10 home runs or more, so coming close to the record by the end of this month is not completely far-fetched. But what about reaching a stratospheric mark, a 50-homer season? Well, that remains a pipe dream of the biggest proportions. Stanton's odds of hitting 19 home runs in the next two months stand at just 0.4 percent.
But in all of these calculations, we assume Stanton remains healthy throughout. Stanton has yet to miss any injury time, but he has average a little under 29 games missed per season over the last three years. If we prorate that for the remaining time left in the season, that would boil down to about seven games and 30 plate appearances missed. If we take that off of his expectations, Stanton's odds of reaching 40 homers drop to 39.3 percent, and his chances of breaking Sheffield's record fall to 9.9 percent.
Stanton's injury problems in the past may get in the way of a future bid for MVP at the end of 2014 as well as a bid for the 40-homer mark. But his rate and lead are so strong right now that he is the odds-on favorite to win the home run crown in the National League, and he has a decent chance of beating out Jose Abreu and Nelson Cruz for the overall crown. This would be the first time Stanton led any league in home runs, and it would feel right for him to break the Marlins franchise record as well. If health is on his side, the numbers are as well.