With a chance to play spoiler against the Toronto Blue Jays in the Bronx this week, the Yankees were instead lulled into such a heavy sleep that it should count towards Yusei Kikuchi's preferred 14 hours a day.
New York fell 7-1 in the opener, lowlighted by Giancarlo Stanton's two slow-as-molasses double play balls, then dropped a 6-1 follow-up to render the finale of this series as irrelevant as Season 34 of Big Brother.
While the entire team's futility was fully on display in the opening two games, from Tommy Kahnle's dirtball changeups to Kevin Gausman's complete mastery of anyone technically "using" a bat, Stanton fell most prominently under the microscope.
The soon-to-be 34-year-old is in the midst of an almost unfathomable slump, 2-for-39 with 17 whiffs in his past 11 games (unsurprisingly, both of those hits left the yard). While the dinger production is still admirable this season (24 in only 97 games), there's been precious little to accompany it. The occasional defender has been worth -0.8 bWAR as his bat speed has slowed, good for just an 87 OPS+, continuing what many hoped was an injury-marred mirage from the second half of last season.
After Wednesday's game, Stanton spoke to the media and counteracted the popular (read: popular on Facebook) narrative that he's no longer trying, content to wave at sliders if it comes with the occasional homer. Instead, the All-Star candidly admitted he's working hard to fix it, and is just as dissatisfied with the results as anyone, a message that only goes so far if the results have been consistently poor for 150 consecutive games.
Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton brutally honest (again) but nothing's working
Stanton used to be a player who could overcome the quirks of his swing and holes in his approach with otherworldly bat speed. Nowadays, the bat speed is still league-leading, but it's slipped several miles per hour. Corrections must be made, or he'll become an obsolete model, a truth he still appears to be reckoning with.
Perception has become reality in 2022 and 2023. It's always felt like a low-and-away breaker was a death knell for Stanton, but occasionally, pitchers would get cocky and try to feed their best fastballs by him, thinking they were different and could make the magic happen. Typically, they were proven wrong.
These days, though, a bummed-out Stanton sees an under-.190 average on the board and has no choice but to call it what it is.
Stanton's four years and $88 million remaining cost to the Yankees (thanks for picking up some of the tab, Marlins) may not all be spent in pinstripes. There's a good chance his body further betrays him and a DFA eventually becomes necessary. Hell, that time may have already passed.
As Stanton enters his platoon bat/"once upon a time..." era, he deserves to be commended for his candor. But after several years of honesty and slippage, it's no longer enough.