Giancarlo Stanton returned to playing the outfield for the New York Yankees on July 30 against his former team, the Miami Marlins. Earlier in the year, Stanton rode the bench during a two-game road set against the Philadelphia Phillies because there was no DH spot, and that drew the ire of many fans.
Nonetheless, he logged those defensive reps for the first time since 2019 and is on track to get his most games in the field since 2018 (he only appeared in 13 back in 2019 and already has 11 in 2021).
What has that done for the Yankees? It’s unlocked a more efficient version of Stanton and has given manager Aaron Boone the flexibility he needs to make this lineup the most potent it can possibly be.
If the eye test wasn’t good enough for you, since debuting in the outfield, Stanton has upped his average from .252 to .267 and his OPS from .794 to .844. Is that something you’re interested in?
It appears the at-home recliner general managers were right. The change of pace playing defense provides has helped Stanton be more relaxed at the plate — or at least it seems that way.
His efforts were on fully display on Monday night against the Atlanta Braves, too. He drove in all three of the Yankees’ runs in the first seven innings, going 2-for-3 with a run scored, a homer, a double and three RBI. And somehow hit this home run!
Giancarlo Stanton playing defense helps the Yankees greatly.
The strength on that home run … goodness gracious. A flick of the wrist and that ball was a heat-seeking missile that landed in the Chop House at Truist Park.
But let’s not get too distracted by that highlight. Did you happen to notice Luke Voit won American Player of the Week honors because Boone was able to squeeze him into the DH spot after Stanton played the field four times? Voit was unleashed, batting .476 and slugging .905 with five runs scored, three doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI in those six contests.
Is there doubting the ripple effect Stanton being able to at least play defense 50% of the time has? Sure, the Yankees are humming right now and it seems like not much can go wrong, but fans rightfully grew frustrated during the first half of 2021 because of Stanton hogging the DH spot and taking away at-bats from other talented sluggers on the roster.
But this was all part of the plan, wasn’t it? Let Stanton ensure he’s healthy enough to put that much pressure on his body, acquire a defensive wizard and lefty slugger at first base in Anthony Rizzo, and then use Voit as a luxury at DH … considering he’d be a starting first baseman on most MLB teams.
We’re just glad we’re finally seeing it all play out before our eyes. And really hope we get to see more of it in October.