After falling short in 2014 and coming up second behind Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton is back with a vengeance. Stanton is having the best season of his eight-year career, hitting .292/.384/.665, while hitting a league leading 51 home runs and is second only behind Nolan Arenado with 109 RBIs. He leads the NL in OPS (1.044), extra-base hits (76) and weighted runs created plus (163).
Much like 2014 Stanton has been the Marlins best offensive player he leads the team in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and wins-above-replacement with 6.3. The Marlins offense goes through Stanton, if he performs well the ball club wins. He is the Marlins’ MVP and its about time the league honors him as their most valuable player. Stanton’s success can be broken down into a three categories: health, protection, and batting stance.
In 2014 his season was cut short by a Mike Fiers fastball. Despite only playing 145 games he lead the league in home runs (37). He followed up 2014 by hitting .265 with 27 home runs and 67 RBIs, well on his way to another homerun title until he broke his hamate bone. Stanton played in a career 74 games that season. 2016 was another disappointing season in which he would go on to play 119 games due to a groin, hit a career low .240. After two poor seasons fans began to question his potential and whether he was worth the $325M the Marlins signed him for.
Fast-forward to 2017 Stanton is now one of the most dangerous hitters in the game particularly after the All Star break where he’s hitting .331/.439/.873, 25 home runs and 52 RBIs. He’s locked on in a manner which he never has been before. Stanton’s numbers, while being a product of remaining healthy, is also a statement about the protection around him in the lineup.
The Marlins are the fifth best hitting team in the league by average (.265). Dee Gordon’s hitting .297 and has 47 stolen bases, Marcell Ozuna is having a career year as well hitting .308/.375./.552 while hitting a career best 31 HRs and 103 RBIs (this is the first time two Marlins’ players have hit 30 HRs and 100 RBIs since Carlos Delgado and Miguel Cabrera since 2005.) Before going down with an oblique injury Justin Bour was hitting a career best .289/.366/.548 with 21 home runs and 63 RBIs. Pitchers can’t pitch around Stanton anymore because this Marlins lineup has proven that it could hit; it may just well be the best lineup the Marlins have had in recent years.
Similar to 2014 Stanton isn’t just hitting for power but for average as well but may just finish the season hitting at or above .290 for the second time in his career. Stanton’s new closed off stance allows him to reach outside pitches while preventing his front shoulder from flying open as often and elongating his swing. Stanton’s new batting stance is the primary reason for his power surge.
While Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, Joey Votto, and Paul Goldschmidt are having good seasons, they aren’t having the same effect on the team as Stanton. Blackmon and Arenado play in the hitter friendly confines in Coors Field, inflating their batting averages. Goldschmidt’s numbers just pale in comparison to Stanton’s; whereas Goldschmidt has a higher batting average, he simply can't compete with Stanton’s power. For how good Votto is the Reds aren’t playing meaningful games this late in the season.
Stanton has powered the Marlins into contention. The Marlins are on their way to their first winning season since 2009 and most of it is in part because of Stanton.