Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton vs DJ LeMahieu argument is a giant waste of time

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 05: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees celebrates his third inning two run home run against the Houston Astros with teammate DJ LeMahieu #26 at Yankee Stadium on May 05, 2021 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Astros 6-3. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 05: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees celebrates his third inning two run home run against the Houston Astros with teammate DJ LeMahieu #26 at Yankee Stadium on May 05, 2021 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Astros 6-3. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

We get it, Yankees fans. You’re all frustrated. It’s valid! The team is underperforming. They’ve fallen victim to insane regressions, freak injuries, and somehow two COVID outbreaks despite meeting the recommended vaccination threshold months ago.

You know what else is true? There’s no single player to blame. However, some deserve more of the blame than others.

That’s why Giancarlo Stanton has been the subject of boos despite, what appears to be, a productive campaign. He’s a former MVP. He’s got the biggest contract on the team. He’s only hitting. He’s not hampered with any responsibilities on defense.

He SAT OUT two games at Philadelphia earlier this year because the team wouldn’t sign off on him playing the outfield in a National League park! At this point, it’s unbelievable. So yes, greater expectations will be placed upon the slugger who is supposed to be among the best in the league and should be playing a role in carrying the offense when other players are enduring slumps or missing time for whatever reason.

That’s why it’s more unacceptable that Stanton is being lapped by a number of other designated hitters across the league. Should we look at the stats?

  • Stanton – .826 OPS
  • Shohei Ohtani – 1.040 OPS
  • JD Martinez – .941 OPS
  • Nelson Cruz – .910 OPS
  • Yordan Alvarez – .871 OPS
  • Franmil Reyes – .909 OPS (though in 20 fewer games)

All of the others have played in more games than Stanton. The other notable AL DH, Rays slugger Austin Meadows, has a higher WAR than Stanton, too. Out of these full-time or near-full-time DHs, Stanton ranks last. And in terms of OPS, he’s 43rd in MLB. Home runs? He’s tied for 45th. How can a majority of everyday Yankees viewers not agree that production simply isn’t enough?

Stop comparing Giancarlo Stanton’s struggles to … anyone else’s on the Yankees.

The truth is, Stanton’s insane tear from April 23 to May 5 has buoyed his stats all year (he picked up 25 of his 70 hits, six of his 16 home runs, and 11 of his 44 RBI over that stretch). We’re not taking that away from him, but that’s the exact problem. The majority of his production comes in short spurts and then he disappears.

Don’t believe us? He has 10 extra-base hits since the beginning of June. He has two extra-base hits AT HOME since May 7. We’re sorry, but a solo home run up two against one of the league’s worst bullpens on Tuesday to snap an 0-for-14 run doesn’t get him out of the dog house. On what planet is 1-for-15 good?

The rebuttal to the tweet above was that Stanton’s wRC+ was 175 from June 9 to July 8. Great! That stretch saw the Yankees go 12-12. Another issue with Stanton is that it’s clear his positive production doesn’t necessarily translate to wins, for whatever reason. Is that his fault? Not entirely. Again, the team has been bad.

But the eye test is also a thing. If you’re just looking at WAR, wRC+, OPS+ and/or whatever metric makes you feel good, it’s not telling the whole story. Stats like wRC+, OPS+ and wOBA are merely adjusted metrics. They aren’t definitive. They don’t tell you exactly what’s happening. They all simply help put other factors into perspective that we hadn’t thought of before.

Plus, isn’t WAR the granddaddy of all advanced metrics? Stanton’s 0.8 fWAR is good for 109th in MLB. He has the 15th-highest strikeout percentage in MLB sandwiched in between Royals disappointments Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler.

Giancarlo Stanton is an above-average baseball player, but his contributions simply do not move the needle for the Yankees on a nightly basis if you’ve watched every single game rather than peruse Baseball-Reference and various box scores.

The criticism of Stanton should exist on an island. He’s a special case given his situation as a permanent DH and the main reason the Yankees cannot be more flexible with their lineup. If he’s getting booed and you take exception to it, don’t exclaim that another player is at fault for the Yankees’ struggles. Deflecting for the sake of deflecting gets us nowhere.

And in recent weeks, we’ve seen Stanton, at least on the toxic platform known as Twitter, compared to LeMahieu by his most staunch defenders. But doing so makes hardly any sense … unless you’re just spewing the idea that you’re angry LeMahieu signed a six-year extension after emerging as the team MVP in 2019 and 2020.

LeMahieu, who’s also having a down season and contributed significantly to the team’s terrible first half, is a leadoff hitter. His job is to get on base and score runs. Two completely different jobs. Also, scoring runs requires help from the guys behind you, just like RBIs require help from the guys in front of you. LeMahieu has the 8th-best on-base percentage (.348) among leadoff hitters in the AL — not great, but not terrible, exactly in the middle — while Aaron Judge’s .375 mark is good for 23rd in all of MLB. DJLM and Judge rank 66th and 46th in the run-scoring department, however … which is still worse than Stanton’s RBI rank (72nd). He bats behind both of them.

Additionally, when LeMahieu isn’t getting the job done at the plate, he’s providing rare defensive versatility in a positive manner, logging reps at first, second and third base. He’s good for a 1.5 fWAR, and defense has certainly played a role in that figure being as high as it is.

We’re really not sure how else we can contextualize it any further. Stanton is here to stay. We want him to succeed. But it’s clear there are worrisome gaps and holes in his game that are evident from the eye test that deserve stark criticism. Some advanced metrics help his case, some don’t. Hopefully his second half changes that and shifts the discussion to him being the reason for the Yankees’ success.

Just stop comparing him to any other player on the Yankees on an individual basis. The argument holds no weight.