986. That’s how many games Giancarlo Stanton played during his eight years in Miami.
No, he wasn’t Dwyane Wade or Dan Marino, but when you look back at those 986 games he played in Miami, you realize he deserves to be in that category: one of the best athletes to ever put a jersey on in this city.
The last memory he gave us was among the most extraordinary individual seasons in Miami sports history. He hit a career-high 59 home runs and won National League MVP.
The 8 seasons Giancarlo Stanton spent here were nothing short of incredible: an MVP, four-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger. He led the NL in home runs twice and left the Marlins with 267 career home runs, which is the all-time franchise record. Beyond just home runs, Stanton is also the Marlins record holder of in runs batted in, slugging percentage, extra base hits, ISO, WRC+, WAR and other advanced categories. Those franchise records solidify him as the greatest Marlin ever.
This series can be extra special for Stanton and Marlins fans. Stanton sits at 299 career home runs, one big swing away from smashing No. 300 in the place where it all started for him. Doing it in front of many of the people he grew up with and in the stadium he built would be the perfect homecoming.
Stanton says it’ll be “weird” for him to return to Miami for the first time since being traded. It will definitely be weird for Marlins fans, too. Through the eight years, we saw him mature from raw, 20-year-old prospect to superstar. We saw him step up and be a leader, delivering that powerful on-field speech in the aftermath of José Fernández’s tragic death.
Stanton will always have a place in Miami’s heart. He was the first player to want to be a lifer. He signed his 13-year contract extension to forego free agency and become a legend here.
Stanton accomplished everything you could do as a Marlin...except team success. That was not his fault, of course, but something us as fans will always look back and be bitter about. The old regime never built a competent team around him.
We were lucky to get the main years of Stanton’s prime. He’s on a Hall of Fame trajectory and, despite the messy divorce last offseason, could still become the first player inducted into Cooperstown as a Marlin.
When Stanton steps into the batter’s box Tuesday, he deserves a big ovation. He deserves a “thank you” for his time as a Marlin and all that he accomplished. It would be an appropriate tribute to the slugger who used to effortlessly bring the home crowd to their feet.
Thank you, 27.