One of the most feared sluggers in today’s game is Giancarlo Stanton, who is in the midst of a solid 12-year career. Formerly known as Mike, the 32-year old has split his time with the Florida/Miami Marlins and the New York Yankees. Stanton won’t be coming onto the ballot for another 15 years or so, depending on when he hangs up the cleats. But now is as good a time as ever to look at where the 6’6, 245-pound outfielder and designated hitter currently stacks up for the Hall of Fame.
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Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton was drafted by the Marlins in the second round of the 2007 MLB Draft, out of Notre Dame High School. He made his debut at age 20 on June 8, 2010, and went 3-for-5 against the Philadelphia Phillies. Stanton spent his first eight years with the Marlins, including the last two years they were known as the Florida Marlins. In those eight seasons, the big man recorded no less than 22 homers (rookie year) and posted a 145 OPS+.
The best season of his career to date was his last year in Miami, in which he won the NL MVP in 2017. That year, he led the league with 59 long balls, 132 RBI, a .631 slugging percentage, and a 169 OPS+. The Californian also recorded a 7.9 bWAR, including a massive 6.9 offensive WAR. Including that year, Stanton made four All-Star Games and won two Silver Slugger awards. He also won his second Hank Aaron Award in 2017 and led the league with a .350 ISO (Isolated Power).
Following the 2014 season, the Marlins signed Stanton to the highest total dollar contract in team sports history at that time. The contract was worth $325 million for 13 years, an average annual value of $25 million. After his MVP season of 2017, the Marlins’ new ownership group, led by Derek Jeter, was looking to trade Stanton to shed salary. So then on December 11, the Yankees pulled off a highway robbery by trading Starlin Castro and minor leaguers Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers for Stanton and cash. He had an outstanding first year in the Bronx, as he played 158 games while mashing 38 homers with 100 RBI and 34 doubles. In the AL Wild Card Game against the Oakland Athletics, he hit his first career postseason home run.
Stanton was plagued by injuries in the 2019 and shortened 2020 season, as he played a combined 41 games out of 222. It was a lot worse than what he dealt with in Miami, as he tried to return several times in 2019 before suffering another injury. He was transitioned to the DH role with the Yankees to try and avoid injuries but did play out there sparingly in 2021. In the 2020 ALDS, Stanton smacked a ninth-inning grand slam in Game 1.
Despite going down with a strained quadriceps injury at the start of 2021, he only missed 13 games and was healthy the rest of the season. Playing 139 games, the DH was one of the best hitters on the team, as he slashed .273/.354/.516 with 35 homers and 97 RBI. In the AL Wild Card Game against the Boston Red Sox. Stanton went 3-for-4 with a 109.5 mph homer in the ninth inning.
Stanton is one of the scariest hitters in the league when he’s healthy and it gets tough to pitch to him. At 32, he currently sits at 347 career home runs. If he can stay healthy and play at least six more years, he can certainly reach the 500 career home run plateau that many voters look at as a benchmark. As of now, he ranks 36th among right fielders 39.6 JAWS, and 40th with a 44.1 career WAR. His career WAR per 162 games played sits at 5.4 which ranks 19th. Stanton will also certainly get over 1,000 career RBI and his career OPS+ of 143 is higher than several Hall of Famers, including Vladimir Guerrero.
The injuries could take away from Stanton’s case if he begins to decline fast. He has only played 145 games or more in four of 12 seasons and is a one-dimensional power hitter. The slugger also has a high strikeout rate as he has struck out 28 percent of the time in his career. But many power hitters these days have the three true outcomes (homer, strikeout, walk) and Stanton has shown the ability to hit for average. Another potential negative is the fact he hasn’t played the outfield much since going over the AL. He is a strong outfielder when out there, though. Plus, other designated hitters like Edgar Martinez and now likely David Ortiz are Hall of Famers. They were only ever DHs and Stanton has a strong arm when playing the outfield.
Stanton is on a Hall of Fame path and will get there with healthy seasons. That is the case with many players these days who get bit by the injury bug. In Stanton’s case, the seasons like 2017 and 2021 will need to be repeated for him to be a shoo-in. If he doesn’t stay healthy, though, his chances drastically drop. In that case, his Hall of Fame case would be more along the lines of Mark Teixeira. Very strong numbers when healthy, but just couldn’t stay healthy enough.
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