As much as the media wants you to believe that Giancarlo Stanton dropping two balls in left field on Sunday for the Yankees is a cause for concern, it’s not. And here’s why.
Doing my greatest Charlie Brown impersonation, all I can say is, ‘Good Grief!’ Yes, Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees fought the vicious Florida sun and lost, twice — but let’s take a moment to think about what’s got some folks panic-stricken.
Because it’s Spring Training, a time for trying out new things, manager Aaron Boone gave Stanton his first ever big league start in left field — a position he hadn’t played since 2010 in Double-A Jacksonville.
In the second inning, Stanton headed for the gap on a long drive hit by the Rays’ Jake Bauers. With his glove raised above his head, Stanton looked away at the last moment, and the ball slapped off his mitt for a double.
Later, in the fourth inning, Kevin Kiermaier slashed a shot deep towards left field. Stanton didn’t get much of a read of the ball off the bat, and the ball soon bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double.
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Saying a guy like Brett Gardner would have had a better chance to make both plays is irrelevant. Although left field is widely considered to be the easiest of the three outfield positions, contending with the elements in a position you haven’t set foot in for eight years is no easy task.
And don’t give me this, ‘Well major leaguers shouldn’t drop fly balls,’ crap. In a game where one hit every 10 at-bats can make you an All-Star, it’s clear to see the law of averages is not a friend of this incredibly complicated sport.
Stanton, being the consummate professional that he is, took full responsibility for his blunders in the field, as he told Newsday.
"“Yeah, they were in the sun,” Stanton said. “But that doesn’t matter. It’s still part of the game.”"
The bottom line is not to sweat the small stuff. As long as Brett Gardner is healthy this season, he’ll see the lions share of time in left field for the Yankees.
Even if something were to plague likely opening day center fielder Aaron Hicks, as two separate oblique injuries did in 2017, and Gardner had to move to center, I fully expect the younger and more athletic Aaron Judge to get the first crack in left field before Stanton.
With Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury expected to return from injury within the next week to 10 days, the likelihood of seeing Stanton anywhere but DH or right field in 2018 is slim.
So chill out, we’re only 10 games in Spring Training. It’s way too early to get this anxious.