Yankees fans owe Giancarlo Stanton an apology after offseason DFA talk

Chicago White Sox v New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox v New York Yankees / Mike Stobe/GettyImages

All eyes are on Aaron Judge and Juan Soto right now, and for good reason. Soto's electric Saturday propelled the New York Yankees to victory, and Judge's current offensive surge is legitimately historic.

But Giancarlo Stanton, who has spent most of his Yankees tenure in the crosshairs of fans (including us, many times!) deserves a lot of credit for what he's doing. And some might argue, "well, yeah, this is what he's supposed to be doing making all that money," but that's just not how it needs to be viewed.

Injuries have plagued Stanton for years, and though they weren't his fault, the unwatchable stretches of play partially were. Fans know that it's difficult for athletes to get back on track after inconsistent playing time or long layoffs due to health issues, but Stanton managed to be unwatchable during considerable stretches.

After an All-Star first half in 2022, Stanton was slowed by an Achilles issue, and his numbers cratered in the second half. He was limited to 101 games last year, and was scary bad outside of his 24 home runs (.191 average, .695 OPS and 87 OPS+).

This offseason, a lot of fans wanted him gone after that showing (and the fact that he locks up the DH spot because he can't play defense and makes it harder for Aaron Boone to be flexible with the lineup). Some suggested finding a trade partner willing to take a risk. Others went the next step and said the Yankees should eat as much money as possible to make a deal happen. And then there were the ridiculous calls for Stanton to be designated for assignment with $88 million left on his contract.

But through 40 games in 2024, Stanton looks as "right" as he ever has, slashing .258/.309/.530 (.838 OPS, 134 OPS+) with 21 runs scored, 11 homers and 26 RBI.

Yankees fans owe Giancarlo Stanton an apology after offseason DFA talk

Advocating for a Stanton trade in which another team takes the salary plunge and can offer something of decent value in return felt like the "line" for this discussion. Though many of us overstepped it, we safely knew it'd be absurd for the Yankees to pay for Stanton to play somewhere else, especially in the disrespectful form of a DFA.

It's often overlooked how Stanton's handled his business professionally in New York. He carried the 2018 team when Judge was out. His 2020 postseason performance should've been enough to get the Yankees by, but the rest of the lineup disappeared. He and Judge carried the offense on that dismal 2021 team. He played a big role in the historic first-half success of the 2022 squad.

And he's never had a bad thing to say about the fans, who have endlessly ripped him for his 2019 absence, his unsightly strikeouts, and that frustrating combination of lack of availability followed by detrimental output.

Not only has Stanton shook off a terrible 2023 and a slow start to 2024, but he's been a clutch force (while somehow mashing right-handed pitching). His offense has directly translated to wins. He's hitting ,361 with a 1.092 OPS, two homers and 16 RBI with runners in scoring position. In high-leverage situations, he's hitting .296 with a 1.054 OPS, two homers and 12 RBI.

That kind of response to bottom-of-the-barrel offseason outrage can't go unnoticed. New York has forced countless players to fold, but it can be argued few have had it worse than Stanton, who continues to persevere and act as a stabilizing clubhouse figure.

It may not live on for much longer because we know how unpredictable the marathon of a baseball season can be, but Stanton's earned the respect of Yankees fans and a ban on such ridiculous criticism as he's quietly helped navigate the best start of any team in the AL.