Photo via Warwick Saint/ESPN
Since the All-Star Break, Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has been the hottest player in baseball. On the flip side, his American League home run leading counterpart, Aaron Judge, has been one of the coldest. Judge’s struggles have sparked and enabled the “why do guys still compete in the HR Derby when it ruins their swing” argument to resurface.
While Judge has been this year’s poster child for the anti-Derby argument, for some reason Giancarlo Stanton has not been for the other side of the argument. Stanton competed in the same HR Derby as Judge yet his performance since the break has been historic.
Stanton did compete in two fewer rounds than Judge this year, but to claim the amount of swings a hitter takes in the derby impacts their post ASG performance would be even crazier than suggesting the Derby itself ruins swings.
In the last 34 games and 149 plate appearances, Stanton is hitting .311/.436/.836 good for a 1.272 OPS, to go along with 19 HR and 39 RBI. In that stretch, Stanton has also posted a 213 wRC+, a statistic that measures offensive ability vs the league average. The league average is 100, so a score of 213 says that Stanton has been 113% better than a league-average hitter.
One of the most incredible aspects of Stanton’s torrid pace right now is that he’s done it while having just a .268 BABIP compared to his career average of .319 and season average of .293. This means that Stanton has been unlucky on balls he has hit in play and would have been even more dominant over this stretch if he’d just been average on balls in play.
From August 10-15, Stanton homered in 6 straight games and had done so in two of the three games prior. Overall, he has 12 homers in his last 16 games.
Stanton now has 45 home runs on the season. If he keeps hitting at this pace, he has a great chance to challenge and beat Roger Maris single-season record of 60 HR which some people believe to be the true HR record based on steroid allegations against all those who have hit over 60.
While the Marlins playoff hopes are all but gone with a mediocre 60-62 record, Stanton’s chase for 60 will continue to put butts in seats and eyeballs on screens.
With most of the MLB’s playoff picture decided, Stanton’s pursuit of 61 might be the most exciting thing left in the regular season.
Moreover, Stanton’s incredible run could be great for baseball as the sport needs stars and individual performances to rally behind to compete with the NBA and NFL.