I’m fairly certain I’ve always wanted to write something that focused solely on Giancarlo Stanton and how he hits home runs all the time since the first time I saw him crush one over the fence. Stanton was renowned as a lethal power hitter even in his days as a top prospect, and his mashing ways at the Major League level have done nothing but enhance his status as one of the premier sluggers in baseball. While Stanton did plenty to thrust himself into the public eye in his first two big league seasons, it’s his injury-stunted 2012 that marks the emergence of a new kind of monster.
It’s hard for me to even know where to begin with Stanton because I love the guy so much. Let’s start with just describing him and how he sounds like some sort of fictional slugger you’d find in a tongue-in-cheek video game, the sort of mythical player whose name might be something like Bash Blazer. Stanton is still only 22 years old, and according to Baseball Reference he stands 6’5″ and weighs 245 pounds. He’s got a cannon for an arm and is emerging as one of the best defensive right fielders in the game, but this is not the time or place to discuss all of that. This is the time and place to discuss homers. Built like a football player (and he once was a very good one), the ball just leaps off Stanton’s bat as if trying to escape the pain getting ready to be administered by the slugger’s unforgiving swing.
With just a few weeks remaining in the 2012 season, Stanton sits second in the National League in home runs behind only Ryan Braun. Stanton is just four homers back at 34, a number that already ties the career high he established as a 21-year-old last season. The truly fascinating thing about that already impressive home run total is that Stanton has accomplished it in just 462 plate appearances due to a lengthy knee injury that required surgery. To put Stanton’s dinger productivity into perspective, Braun has benefited from a whopping 135 additional PA to get those four extra homers, and Ryan Braun is a tremendous power hitter. Stanton still may end up leading the league in home runs despite missing more than a month’s time, a feat that should definitely not go ignored. A hot streak could also give him the first of what should be infinite 40-homer seasons in his sure-to-be-enthralling career.
Aside from the amount of homers he’s been able to hit (I love Giancarlo Stanton, had to mention this again), Stanton has also been noteworthy in that he is most definitely earning his blasts. According to the data on ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, Stanton is tied for the Major League lead with nine “no doubt” homers, meaning that he’s hit nine balls that everyone pretty much just sat around gawking at until slobber ran down their chins. He’s also responsible for a 494-foot death rocket that came on August 17 and still stands as the longest of all 2012 long balls. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Stanton clobbered a 465-foot missile the very nexy day and boasts five other shots of at least 450 feet this season. What a beast!
Stanton has plenty of other power numbers relating to those home runs that are worth discussing as well. He leads all of baseball with a .314 ISO mark, which shows just how much raw and guttural power the guy has. Stanton is also the owner of a .597 slugging percentage, a figure that ranks him slightly ahead of Braun and the always incredible Miguel Cabrera for first in the game. When Stanton happens to hit the ball in the air, it’s going to leave the yard. At 29.1%, his home runs per fly ball rate easily places second in MLB behind only Adam Dunn, and that’s not exactly fair since Adam Dunn’s only brushes with contact come in the form of the tater.
It’s just fun to have a guy like Giancarlo Stanton in the game of baseball here and now. There’s been zero annoying steroid talk, he’s young and not even in his prime yet, and his secondary skills are helping to make him one of the best players in baseball already. He’s the sort of legendary slugger I love to see, the kind of guy who you stop what you’re doing and watch when you get a chance. This is the kind of guy who you can tell hyperbolic stories about to your grandchildren, the kind of slugger who already has a wonderful nickname (“Bigfoot”) that fits the rare and elusive nature of his offensive skill set. Stanton is also athletic and has a good approach, so he isn’t the kind of masher who will fade quickly into the night. Things are just getting started, and it would be genuinely nice to one day again see a 50 home run season that isn’t laced with a constant undercurrent of PED and era-related complaining. I present to you Giancarlo Stanton, a home run hitter for all of us!