Giancarlo Stanton. What a trip this guy is. One second he is hitting home runs and the next he is running to first and coming up lame with a pulled hamstring, or a knee injury, or even an eye injury. He is an enigma that we seemingly know little about. He is hard to project into the future because of the injuries, but the one concrete thing we know about him is that he possesses monstrous power.
Recently I have come to see Stanton as similar to Ken Griffey Jr., in that he hammers the ball and could put up single season home run figures similar to Griffey’s, who hit 56 home runs in consecutive seasons. In addition, Griffey averaged 32 doubles per season, while Stanton averages 36, Griffey had a career OPS of .907, while Stanton’s is .892, and they are only .001 point apart in slugging percentage. I could go on with more statistics, but you get the point, these guys are like statistical clones. Stanton does not have the benefit of playing in the Kingdome like Griffey did, so we should even take into account the fact that Stanton currently plays half of his games in the Petco Park of the East.
Unfortunately, they are also similar in the injury department. I’m not saying Stanton will miss as many games as Griffey, but Stanton has missed 95 games due to injury since the beginning of 2012. What is even more worrisome is that he is hurting in many different regions of the body. I alluded to the numerous injuries in the opening; he has missed time for arthroscopic knee surgery, shoulder issues, and hamstring issues. The ability of each of these separate injuries to flare up again is something that should concern all fans of Stanton, as well as fantasy owners. In fact, I owned Stanton last year in my own fantasy league and we had a running joke going that we couldn’t call him “Giancarlo” (we referred to him as “Mike”) until he hit five home runs. I thought this was a very trivial joke at first, but the other owners had the last laugh because Stanton did not reach five homers until June 15th, mainly due to injuries.
If Stanton can stay healthy, he may be this generation’s Griffey. He does not have the flair, mechanically perfect swing, or happy-go-lucky attitude that Griffey seemed to carry on and off the field, but Stanton is similar to him where it matters most — in the statistics category. As an avid baseball fan I would certainly not be opposed to watching Stanton bash 600, or even 700 homers over the next 15 years and I know every Marlins fan would thoroughly enjoy that kind of production, assuming he stays in Miami. He may not have quite the average that Griffey achieved (Stanton career: .267, Griffey career: .284) but he can certainly smash the ball at a consistent clip.
Strange as it is, I want Stanton to be like Jeremy Renner in Hurt Locker. I want him to step up to the plate and discern what puzzle the pitcher (or the insurgent) is putting in front of him and then solve the riddle and hit the ball 450 feet, like when Renner disarms a circle of six IEDs. Then, I want him to keep the bomb suit on and run around the bases so he doesn’t injure himself. In fact, he should keep the mask on so he doesn’t get an eye injury again.
I am basically asking for Stanton to break numerous batting records all while playing at half speed (or maybe in a bomb suit) so that he will stay healthy. I know that is unfeasible, but we basically have a prior tale of what will happen if he keeps getting injured. We can always just take a look back at Griffey’s career and see what Stanton’s production will be if he keeps landing on the disabled list at his current pace. But the interesting and exciting thing is that if we want to know what could’ve been if Griffey’s career hadn’t been riddled with injuries, we might get a realistic clue if Stanton can get healthy and remain that way for the years to come. Hopefully we will be able to sit back and enjoy the moments of Stanton’s career where he “disarms” pitchers and launches moon shots off the Marlins’ scoreboard.