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  • Cory Claus

Yankees sleeping giant Giancarlo Stanton might be waking up

The Yankees are still in the playoff hunt. They woke this morning 2½ games out of the last Wild Card spot. They also woke to the possibility that Giancarlo is starting a run that will propel them into the playoffs.


One ball for every home run Stanton needs to hit

The Yankees Giancarlo Stanton can still save the season. The team is only 2½ games out with 53 to play.


The problem is that they’re tied with Seattle and behind both Boston and Toronto. Seattle is likely to fade over these last two months as they were sellers at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, improved their roster by adding flame-throwing reliever Jordan Hicks.


Meanwhile, the Yankees (57-52) and Red Sox (57-51) chose to stand pat. That favors the Bombers. While the two clubs have arrived at this point in the season with almost identical records, the Sox have overperformed while the Yankees have underperformed.


And one of the biggest underperformers has been Giancarlo Stanton.


MVP


Giancarlo has been on a downward slide since he joined the Yankees. Some of that has been due to injury, the rest to declining skills.


In his last year with the Marlins, he hit .281/.376/.631 with 59 homers and 32 doubles. His OPS of 1.007 speaks for itself. He handily won the MVP that year, which is what happens when you lead the league in SLG, home runs, and RBI (132).


He hasn’t come close to those numbers since.


Stanton did have a fine first year with the Yankees. That was back in 2018 when he cracked 38 homers and 34 doubles to go with his .266/.343/.509 slash line. What we didn’t know then was that that was going to be his high-water mark.


Over the next two years, he played a total of 41 games, mostly due to injury. Of course, no one played that many games in 2020, as the pandemic limited MLB to 60 games. Still, Stanton only played in 23 of them.


He did have a fine bounce-back year in 2021, however. He played in 139 games while hitting .273/.354/.516. Giancarlo also launched 35 homers and 19 doubles to craft an OPS of .870. Those weren’t his MVP numbers, but they were good enough to carry the Yankees to the playoffs.


But he’s been disappearing before our eyes since then.


Yankees and the Law of Diminishing Returns


Last season, Stanton played in 110 games but only hit .211/.297/.462. The power was still there as he did hit 31 home runs, but only seven doubles. Most telling was that his OPS was .759, the lowest of his career.


Until this year. Now his OPS is .725. That’s because in the 58 games he’s played in, he’s only hitting .203/.277/.448.


Those are all career lows.


But Stanton still has power, knocking out fifteen homers and seven doubles. Telling, however, is that those fifteen make him only third in home runs on the team this year behind both Judge and Torres, with rookie SS Anthony Volpe only one behind him with fourteen.


The player signed to be a co-superstar with Judge has turned into a below-league-average hitter with good but not overwhelming power.


But Stanton still has his secret weapon.


Propelling the Yankees to Victory


He can go on a run like no one else in the game but Judge can. He can hit home runs in bunches and carry a team for weeks.


Back in 2021, he had two good streaks. From August 17th to September 3rd, he cranked out eight home runs among his 18 hits. He took a little break from hitting home runs for the next eight days, although he still collected seven hits.


Then he got back to business. From September 12th to the 28th, he rapped nine home runs among his thirteen hits. In both of those runs, he hit homers in four consecutive games.


The problem for the Yankees is that he hasn’t had one of those for a while. He did have a stretch of hitting six home runs in eight games last year and one of four home runs in three games. But he just wasn’t as dominant, getting only nine hits in that eight-game stretch.


Which brings us to now.


Giancarlo has had five hits in his last five games, including two homers. That could be a sign he is starting one of his hot streaks. If that’s true, he could almost single-handedly propel the Yankees to the playoffs.


And if he does, he might have another streak in him in the postseason. Yankees fans remember what he did in 2020 when he walloped six home runs in seven games. He was statistically better the next year, but all that means is that he hit one home run in the Wild Card game. If he had gotten more help in either postseason, the Yanks could have kept on rolling.


Now they find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoffs. And while there have been plenty of underperformers this year, Stanton has to be considered the biggest disappointment because of his contract and his abilities.


But he still has a chance to make it right, to make Yankees fans forget his season so far. All is forgiven in Yankee Land when you carry your team to the playoffs.


Stanton can do that. The question now is, whether the rest of his season is a dream, or a nightmare.



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