Exactly zero batters are projected to hit above .285, no starters have been predicted to reach 170 innings pitched, and not one pitcher in either the rotation or the bullpen is projected to have a sub- 3.00 ERA. As a result, Miami is expected to finish another year, the eighth in a row, below .500 at 80-82.
While none of the above is promising as the new season approaches, one player’s projections, in particular, stand out for the wrong reasons. Here is Giancarlo Stanton’s predicted 2017 slash line, in a nutshell:
484 PA, .254 AVG, .351 OBP, 31 HR, 82 RBI, 30.0 K%
The first number that stands out is the 484 plate appearances, which affects most of the other stats. 484 is only fourteen more plate appearances than Stanton achieved in 2016, a season where a groin injury kept him out of the lineup for four weeks towards the end of the campaign. Therefore, it is clear that Miami’s star is being predicted to have an injury-riddled 2017.
While injuries have forced Stanton to miss a lot of games over the course of his career, the injuries have all been to different parts of his body; it is not as if he has a recurring issue which will mean missed time every season. Thus, there is no reason not to think that he will reach at least 140 games played (and 600 PA) for the first time since 2014 this coming season.
With the underestimated number of plate appearances addressed, the impact on Stanton's batting average should be positive. Although Stanton was having technically his worst major league season at the plate before the groin injury last season, playing regularly usually allows a player to be dialed-in at the plate and get into a groove which results in more solid contact. A batting average closer to his career mark, then, seems more likely.
With regards to the projected strikeout percentage, Stanton will have heard the criticism surrounding that part of his game, and rightfully so. The desire to correct his flaw, coupled with less of a need to make up for lost time due to injuries, may be enough for Stanton to bring that figure slightly closer to league average.
These predicted numbers by ZiPS do not belong to a three-time All-Star and former MVP runner-up just entering his prime years. There is a reason why Giancarlo Stanton is signed to such a lucrative contract, and in 2017 he will reclaim his place as one of the premier talents in the league. Look for the right-fielder to post numbers more like these this coming season:
607 PA, .268 AVG, .363 OBP, 40 HR, 98 RBI, 28.7 K%
Side note: Giancarlo Stanton will do enough in the first half to be named a starter for the National League in the All-Star Game at Marlins Park.