The New York Yankees will have Giancarlo Stanton at full health for the first time since 2018.
Despite being limited to just 59 at-bats during the 2019 season, New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton still had the two hardest-hit balls in the MLB — 120.6 mph and 118.9 mph, according to statcast.
The raw power Stanton possesses is unmatched by anyone else in baseball. He has continuously proven that when he connects, the ball will travel a long way, adding another lethal bat to a Bombers lineup that is by far the deepest in the MLB.
His injury-riddled 2019 has caused many to stash the 6-foot-6 slugger into the bust category, which is absurd given the fact that he hit .266 with 38 home runs, 100 RBI and an .852 OPS in his debut season with the Yankees.
It was ludicrous to expect the former NL MVP to replicate his 59-home-run and 132-RBI campaign, but that is what Yankees fans expected, which caused many to feel his great 2018 season wasn’t enough.
By no means is Stanton the perfect player. He has primarily been slotted into the DH role because he’s often injured and isn’t great in the field, and his combined strikeout rate of 31.6% over two seasons in New York is on the high side.
But as we have seen with boom-or-bust type hitters in the past, you have to take the strikeouts if you are going to get the mammoth home runs we are accustomed to seeing.
Pessimists will look at Giancarlo’s exhibition and intrasquad at-bats and complain about there being too many swings and misses. That viewpoint is narrow-minded and completely neglects the progression we’ve seen from Stanton throughout the two weeks of simulated games.
His outs have been hard ones, and that was evident in the last exhibition game at-bat against the Phillies. On paper, it was just ground out, but the slugger stayed on the breaking ball and hit it right back up the middle. Two times during the last two weeks Stanton left the yard and absolutely ripped the cover off the ball.
And he went yard and notched an RBI single on Opening Night!
If he gets hot during a shortened season, the opposing team might as well head home. According to Matt Kelly of MLB.com, Stanton had a 60-game stretch during his MVP-winning season where he recorded 33 home runs, 46 extra-base hits and an .824 OPS.
Never has the former Marlins outfielder hit in the middle of a lineup that will provide as much protection as the 2020 New York Yankees lineup. At full strength, the Bombers possess threats in every spot in the order, something he’ll greatly benefit from.
Remember how good he was in 2018? Now he’s got DJ LeMahieu, a better Gleyber Torres, and Luke Voit hanging out there with him.
There’s also a sense of eagerness radiating from the big man that I love to see at this point in the year. When every starter was out of the final exhibition game, there was Stanton taking an at-bat in the eighth inning. That desire to want as many reps and to be as game-ready as possible for Opening Day demonstrates his drive for success.
Don’t forget that last season he returned for the playoffs, and after getting a few reps in during the ALDS, the slugger took advantage of his limited at-bats in Houston and hit an opposite-field home run off Zack Greinke in the series opener.
There’s a saying in baseball that applies to the Yankees and specifically Stanton: “You hang it, we bang it.” If pitchers can execute their sliders and off-speed stuff low and away, odds are Stanton and most other hitters will swing right through it. But nobody is perfect, and look for a motivated Stanton to capitalize on that in 2020.
So far? So very, very good.