Miami Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton has struggled this season. That has not hindered the team from putting together a solid year so far.
Everyone knows Miami Marlins‘ slugger Giancarlo Stanton strikes out a lot. He’s never completed a big league season with more base hits than strikeouts, and it’s only been close once. Over the course of his career, it seems like Stanton’s been all or nothing, but when he gets it all, he’s the lead on all the highlight shows that night.
In 2016, the power still shows some signs of life, but there’s a lot more ‘nothing’ to go with the all.
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Miami remains in the middle of the pack and, as of Thursday, three games above .500. and in third place in the NL East. But Stanton isn’t necessarily carrying the weight he and his contract need to for the Marlins to remain contenders as the season wears on.
If the season ended today, Stanton’s .210 batting average would be a career low by 39 points. More importantly, his current slugging percentage of .471 is also the low point of his career, and only the second time he’s been below .500 in the category. He’s on pace to easily eclipse his career-high for strikeouts in a season, approaching 190 or more for the season.
Most of the games Stanton has missed this season (7 of 9) have come in the last week, before returning to the lineup Wednesday against Pittsburgh. He went 0-3 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts in the Marlins’ 3-2 win over the Pirates.
Expecting a turnaround in the near future might be a bit much. Stanton sustained an injury to his right side in an outfield collision with Marcell Ozuna. And it’s hardly the first time Stanton’s been bitten by the injury bug; his season ended two years ago after a bean ball from Mike Fiers, then with the Milwaukee Brewers. Knee and hamstring injuries have also cost Stanton a lot of playing time in recent seasons.
The collision with Ozuna on May 15 might explain why Stanton is hitting less than .100 since then, but there were the six weeks’ worth of season before that.
It’s not like Stanton can be accused of just cashing checks. The 13-year, $325 million deal he signed after the beaning in 2014 is heavily back-loaded; he’s making about $9 million this season. The contract was structured specifically to allow the Marlins to build a team around Stanton.
The old fair-weather fan favorite reaction is to dump a player when he’s going bad,. but getting rid of Stanton isn’t an option. He has a full no-trade clause; a more than fair concession in exchange for that financial flexibility.
But Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria signed the relatively young Stanton to such a contract with the expectation that the player would be the cornerstone that the franchise can build on. A player that would be a perennial MVP candidate.
For those kinds of players, hitting 500-foot home runs isn’t enough. No one in baseball knows that better than Giancarlo Stanton right now.