Marlins manager Don Mattingly knows Giancarlo Stanton to be a streaky player. He saw it up close the previous two seasons in Miami and doesn’t want to overreact to the ugly first few weeks of Stanton’s tenure with the Yankees.
But Mattingly can relate to the 2017 NL MVP on a more specific level, having also been a key player under enormous expectations to produce for a contending team. Even if this slump seems familiar, the pressure to snap out of it is more intense than anything Stanton has experienced before.
“It’s New York,” Mattingly told Greg Joyce of the New York Post on Monday. “You struggle, you pay, that’s all there is to it. It’s a day-in, day-out place. It doesn’t matter what you did last year. I’m not surprised by it, but also in the same sense, I know it changes once he gets his feel and stuff like that.”
Earlier that evening, Stanton was the only Yankees starter without a hit in an otherwise comfortable 12-1 win in the series opener. The Fish would respond with dominance of their own on Tuesday, earning the split with a 9-1 victory. Stanton went 0-for-7 with four strikeouts, a walk and a hit by pitch in the two games combined.
Overall this season, the 28-year-old slugger is batting .197/.293/.409 with three home runs and strikeouts in nearly 40 percent of his plate appearances. Yankee Stadium fans have been impatient with him, showering Stanton with boos during the Marlins series each time he made an out.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys come into New York from other organizations while I played here,” Mattingly said. “It’s just a different place. It’s just not the same. So, you gotta go out and prove yourself on the field.”
“If you worry about [the boos], you keep twirling down,” Stanton admitted to ESPN New York’s Coley Harvey on Tuesday.
How close is Stanton to returning to his old form? Although he didn’t hit any fair balls beyond the infield in the past two games, this deep fly certainly had home-run distance. It would’ve gone an estimated 451 feet, according to Statcast. Several pitches later, he drew a walk.
However, later in Monday’s game, there were discouraging signs. Stanton was fooled by a Caleb Smith slider and late on an 88-mile-per-hour Chris O’Grady fastball. Both left-handers were generally ineffective against his teammates.
Marlins CEO Derek Jeter did not attend the series in a ballpark where he was—and still is—beloved as a Yankees team captain. Jeter stated previously that making the trip would have been “an awkward situation” and he didn’t want to create a distraction for his young team.
Assuming good health, Stanton won’t have the same option of avoiding that kind of experience. The Marlins and Yankees meet in Miami Aug. 21-22. He holds numerous records for his former franchise, including the highest career home run total (267).