Yankees living and dying with Giancarlo Stanton feels very, very scary


It’s evident that the New York Yankees need their lineup, top to bottom, to be producing in some capacity in order for them to run through the postseason.

Just look at what happened against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. Giancarlo Stanton managed to put up the best four games of his life, and the Bombers still couldn’t get the job done.

And that’s even scarier to think about. The Yankees, without question, need Stanton to be closer to his MVP self if they want to stand a chance. That’s why they acquired him. He needs to be sending missiles out to all fields with Aaron Judge in order for this to work.

When he’s doing what he did on Friday night against the Cleveland Indians — mashing two homers at 115 MPH or more to give the Yankees the lead (and provide further cushion) — it’s usually a painless endeavor for the fans.

But when he’s not doing that? It’s … bad.

We’ve all seen it. The otherworldly slugger striking out in big spots is brutal to watch and all it does is make the groans grow louder. General manager Brian Cashman’s acquisition of Stanton before the 2018 season exacerbated the “do-or-die” ethos of this lineup. Stanton lives by the “boom-or-bust” mantra too. He rakes in streaks. It’s not consistent.

We’re not downplaying Stanton’s abilities, or what he did on Friday night, whatsoever. Yankees fans do marvel at his talent when he’s able to produce, but it’s important to look at the bigger picture when we’re analyzing this team’s World Series chances.

Just look at Stanton’s numbers with the Yankees in wins and losses. You can easily spot the differences:

  • 2018 in wins – .265/.343/.535 with 72 runs scored, 28 home runs and 78 RBI (99 games)
  • 2018 in losses – .268/.344/.465 with 30 runs scored, 10 home runs and 29 RBI (59 games)
  • 2019 in wins – .361/.442/.667 with 8 runs scored, 3 home runs and 11 RBI (13 games)
  • 2019 in losses – .174/.345/.217 with 0 runs scored, 0 home runs and 0 RBI (7 games)
  • 2020 in wins – .326/.466/.609 with 10 runs scored, 3 home runs and 10 RBI (14 games)
  • 2020 in losses – .133/.257/.333 with 2 runs scored, 1 home run and 1 RBI (9 games)
  • 2021 in wins – .208/.345/.625 with 4 runs scored, 3 home runs and 7 RBI (7 games)
  • 2021 in losses – .162/.184/.324 with 3 runs scored, 2 home runs and 7 RBI (9 games)
  • Overall career in wins – .316/.406/.670 with 470 runs scored, 204 home runs and 560 RBI (588 games)
  • Overall career in losses – .218/.308/.420 with 235 runs scored, 113 home runs and 250 RBI (613 games)

The biggest collective difference is slugging percentage. If Stanton isn’t cranking extra-base hits, the Yankees are certainly not winning most of the time. It’s also important to note that the last three years have given us extremely small sample sizes in part due to injury and the early going in 2021. However, in his full 2018 campaign, though he had an all-around All-Star year, you can see his below average production (for his standards) in the power department translating to losses.

Yankees fans haven’t gotten the full Giancarlo Stanton since 2018 for a multitude of reasons. And the abbreviated versions have been either electrifying or downright ugly. New York cannot afford to have the ugly stretches in bulk when he’s batting second or third because it’s a clear detriment to the lineup.

That’s why it’s a little scary to think Stanton’s production is the X-factor for this offense. Could it succeed without him? Yes, at times it will. Baseball is a team sport. There are eight other batters. But Stanton hitting homers and driving in runners is very much essential.

Maybe after his slow start fans will see a replication of 2018. There’s plenty of season left. If that’s the case, the Yankees will likely be in tremendous shape. If not? An early postseason exit could once again be this team’s fate.