It’s time to do away with this altruistic idea that a player needs to hustle.
In the second game of a three game set with the Blue Jays, we saw Giancarlo Stanton bust down to third. The hope was to put pressure on the defense and force them to make a mistake so the Yankees could have runners on the corners. That’s just not what happened, though. Stanton went in head first like Ricky Henderson and, for all his troubles, landed on the Injured List with a PCL strain. We probably won’t see him until August now.
Watching Giancarlo Stanton spend even more time away from the team because of an injury makes me really understand more why Manny Machado doesn’t enjoy being Johnny Hustle. Instead of risking blowing a knee out, Machado would rather play 155 – 162 games a year. Sure some plays might look bad but at least he preserves his body.
I remember laughing when I saw Machado do this but I kind of wish Stanton slid like that instead. He might get an F in the categories of hustle, technique and effort, but he’d have an A+ for health.
When you have a superstar, health trumps everything. Superstars don’t need to be human highlight reels because it’s their ability you want. You don’t need grittiness. You need their bombs. (Tauchman can be gritty. Leave the theatrics to guys like him.)
I know this doesn’t sound great but it’s the reality of the situation when you’re paying a guy for the next decade. It’s just better to let a ball drop in front of you and play it off a hop than it is to go crashing into a wall, making that out and getting hurt for three months. (Sort of like Estevan Florial and Clint Frazier.)
I think the Yankees will be fine while Stanton is out and they’ll still keep first place, but there’s no denying what he brings to the table. He is an absolute masher and his bat is volcanic. He’d make this great team even better.
Despite only playing a handful of games, Stanton has two of the five hardest hits of the season. One was an 120 MPH liner off Andrew Cashner on Opening Day, and the other was a 118 MPH single off Houston reliever Rogelio Armenteros.
Also for a guy who, if you look at Twitter, is supposed to be bad at every aspect of baseball, Giancarlo Stanton was tops in the league in a bunch of offensive categories in 2018. He was in the top 10% of the league in runs (102), top 15% in hits (164), top 10% in home runs (38), top 10% in RBI’s (100), top 20% in walks (70), top 15% in slugging (.509) and top 20% in OPS (.852).
Stanton was also in the top 3% of the league in Barrel (15.1%), top 1% in average exit velocity ( 93.7) and in the top 3% of hard hit balls. (50.5%).
Now look. I love Brett Gardner but, in terms of who I want out there with me going to war, give me Stanton any day. (Crazy I have to say this but Twitter exists). Gardner will be filling in for Stanton some more but comparing the two is like looking at a fully evolved organism and comparing it to its ancestors.
Stanton in 2018:
Gardner in 2019:
While we only saw a very small sample size of Stanton, we did see what a lineup with him in it is able to do. At-bats become a grind for opposing pitchers. In a game against Houston he and Edwin Encarnacion took 19 pitches between them. The game was eventually blown open a few batter’s later. In that same series, a great pitcher in Ryan Pressly was reduced to dust.
Going into that game batters were hitting .162 off of him. Stanton, the superstar that he was, ended up knocking in two against him with a smoked single. His ERA ballooned from .81 to 1.31.
Now when Stanton comes back I need him to do a few things. The first is look at what Machado does. Does he bust out of the line and fly up to first? No. So you don’t do that Giancarlo. Does he complete slides sometimes? No. So you don’t do that Giancarlo. Does he sometimes miscalculate home runs and have an easy double be a single. Yes. You definitely do that Giancarlo because I don’t want to see any more unnecessary base running.
If we can be honest about the perception of Stanton, whether he did well this season or not, what we were all going to look at is the playoffs. It’s like A-Rod in 2005. Yeah he won that MVP but once October came around, he didn’t perform. It’s easy to forget about that MVP award then.
If Stanton can do the opposite where he’s barely around all year but then comes through in the playoffs, it’s only fair to take the monkey placed on his back and toss it right off. He could have three regular season home runs and the season wouldn’t be lost one bit if his October is huge.
In New York, heroes are born in the Fall Classic – unless you’re Don Mattingly. Mattingly gets a pass.