Sit down. Dim the lines. Tune out all distractions. What do you notice about Giancarlo Stanton's swing? That it makes no sense, right?
His legs are too stable. His arms are out too far. Breaking balls on the outer half of the plate have always been his kryptonite, and it's no secret why; his entire setup is designed to take his turning torso away from them. The torsion in his swing is built in the opposite direction.
Until ... well, now, Stanton has been able to overcome all that with generational bat speed. Throw him a mistake, and it'll sail 450 feet into left field. Throw him a pitch that's 75% well-executed, and he might not get all of it ... but it might not matter. There was always enough in his arms alone to carry a 40-homer campaign. 2023 represented what could happen when that is no longer the case.
Stanton subtracted 0.8 bWAR from a 2023 Yankees lineup that couldn't afford it. He shared DH and outfield duties, but didn't run much at either position. There's a chance we're approaching the end of the road, where he either plays compromised or lower-half issues routinely take him out of commission. But there's one way to get a portion of his mojo back, and that's training with Driveline.
Stanton still leads all of MLB in average bat speed, according to Baseball America, but he's down a remarkable 4 MPH since 2021. He needed a freakish advantage to succeed. Now, with his singular tool blunted, he's reverted to normalcy.
According to Tanner Stokey, Driveline's director of hitting, that means it's time for Stanton to start working on the mental side of hitting and make better swing decisions. In a recent Athletic profile, Stokey appraised Stanton's bat-to-ball skills at a 40 on a 20-to-80 scale, and gave his swing decisions a 46. As his other skills recede, that won't cut it anymore.
Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton could reignite his bat speed at Driveline
So how does Stanton make the same leap Mookie Betts made year-over-year, gaining 22 points of wRC+ while improving his high-velocity approach? The Driveline trip is sitting right in front of him, staring him in the face. Stokey is outright providing an improvement path, begging for more loft in Stanton's swing now that he can no longer outrun his problematic ground balls (his sprint speed, unsurprisingly, is in the dumps).
The advice is floating in the ether, if Stanton would like to take it. The exit velocity, when he hits the baseball, remains top-tier, even if his reaction time and swing speed are worse than his 2021 metrics. He may no longer be a superstar, but he can still be a standout -- and, for the price the Yankees are stuck paying here, he should be inclined to try everything.