If Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is truly out for the rest of the season with a groin strain, then this will go down as the worst season in Stanton’s prime by what should be a healthy margin. It will be a disappointing finish to an utterly disappointing year that unfortunately coincided with a to-date exciting Marlins playoff run. With the team striving for contention and other players playing well, Stanton suffered two of the worst months of his career and his season ended just as his recovery to star-level hitter continued.
Every player slumps, even the stars, but Stanton’s two-month stretch of baseball from May to the end of June was the worst run of his career.
He had had deeper slumps, and he had had slumps as long as this one, but never were they deep or this long. From mid-May to mid-June, he was the worst hitter in baseball and ran a wRC+ of close to zero. He did not look good at that time, and it was tough to watch. Marlins fans on this very site were calling for his head, asking about options to demote him (he would have had to accept a demotion as per policy for a player with his number of service years) or otherwise get him out of the lineup because he was hurting the team. And that is an undeniable fact: Stanton was hurting the team that month-plus.
But like we mentioned before, it was not likely that Stanton had suddenly become some bad hitter, and indeed he recovered from that awful run. From the start of July through August 13, Stanton hit .287/.349/.588, good for a .389 wOBA that would have more or less matched his career numbers. This came with more power, fewer strikeouts, and fewer walks, but it was still a reminder once again that Stanton has not lost much of what he displayed in years past. However, at the same time, ignoring the two bad months is also a bad idea, and the sum total of his season means that we should expect a little less from Stanton than we did before the season started.
That sum total for the season was the worst year Stanton has ever put up. The .244/.329/.495 batting line (.349 wOBA) was fourth-best on the team, and he ended the season worth around two wins by most systems. This is by no means a bad year for most players, but for a guy who is a perennial All-Star candidate and the “face of the franchise,” for a player into the second year of the biggest contract in American sports history, it was a disappointment.
At least as the season progressed, there was excitement about the return of power Stanton, and his recovery was a big part of the 16-10 record in July. However, the end of Stanton’s season may have been the most disappointing part of the entire year. It occurred on yet another injury, on a play that perhaps should not have even happened. This resulted in yet another injury that will knock Stanton out for the rest of the year in a campaign in which the Fish have their first realistic shot at a playoff berth since the late 2000’s. This will be the fourth year in six full seasons in which Stanton failed to reach 600 plate appearances and the second year in a row in which he even failed to reach the 500-mark typical for him. Worse yet, this is a lower extremity injury, and while it is one that is unlikely to hamper him in the long run, it continues the line of lower extremity injuries that have curbed his mobility and occasionally hurt his defensive performances.
There were multiple reasons for Stanton’s 2016 season to be a disappointment and ultimately this year is going to lead to major questions about his future play with the organization. The Marlins’ playoff shots are worse now without their best position player, he is hampered again with an injury that reinforces his injury-prone label, and the performance was a bad one this year. The hope now is that the Fish can play well without Stanton’s recovering bat in the lineup, that Stanton can work himself back into play shape in case the Fish are in the playoffs, and that Miami gets a healthy and reinvigorated Stanton back, whenever that may be, thanks to all this adversity he faced this season.