Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 8/20/12

Friday night in Colorado, Giancarlo Stanton hit a home run. It was a long home run; it was the longest home run, of this season. This is what it looked like, and ESPN’s Home Run Tracker gave it a distance of 494 feet. The game was played at altitude, sure, but the wind was blowing in. Then Saturday in Colorado, Stanton hit another long home run. That one had a distance of 465 feet, making it Stanton’s second-longest dinger of the year. That home run also allowed Stanton to set a record. Saturday’s was Stanton’s sixth career game in Coors, and it was his sixth career game in Coors with a homer. Stanton became the first player to do that.

It makes perfect sense that Stanton would make a mockery of Colorado, just as it makes perfect sense that Wily Mo Pena would make a mockery of Japan, even though he isn’t, exactly. Stanton’s game is the jaw-dropping longball. Colorado’s game features a lot of longballs. The idea of Stanton playing in Colorado more often brings to mind the idea of some incredible records.

Sunday, Stanton played his seventh career game in Coors. In zero of his plate appearances did he hit a home run.

When a player or a team does something you didn’t expect, it’s worth it to take a closer look. Earlier today, we examined the Angels’ recent collapse. If Ben Revere ever hit a ball out of the yard, we’d probably give you seven new pieces of content about it. Giancarlo Stanton didn’t hit a ball out of the yard, in Colorado, for the first time ever. It goes without saying that we couldn’t let this pass by un-discussed. Clearly, for Stanton on Sunday, something went dreadfully wrong.

We’ll break it down, beginning with Stanton’s plate appearance in the top of the third. Facing Drew Pomeranz, Stanton got a first-pitch fastball outside for a ball, carrying with it a dinger potential of just about zero. Pomeranz followed with another outside fastball, this time on the edge:

We’ll give Pomeranz credit for a pitch well executed; while Stanton has power to all fields, and while Coors allows power to all fields, this would’ve been a difficult pitch to square up. Dinger potential in the neighborhood of, I don’t know, five, out of something much greater than five. I’m just making this scale up now. In a 1-and-1 count, Pomeranz came inside with a fastball:

The dinger potential here is through the roof. Probably as high as 40 or 50! Stanton took a good cut and just missed, fouling the ball into the broadcast booth. You can tell that Drew Pomeranz knew he got lucky by watching his left leg. That little bounce off the mound — that’s what “whew” looks like in mediocre pitcher body language. Pomeranz saw where his pitch was going, and he saw Stanton begin to uncoil. The result was fortuitous.

The next pitch was a high fastball, well out of the zone. Dinger potential of almost exactly zero. Giancarlo Stanton strikes out a lot. He struck out here.

In the third inning, Giancarlo Stanton didn’t homer, nor did he come particularly close to homering, although he could have on that one pitch. We advance to Stanton against Matt Belisle in the top of the eighth. I don’t know if Stanton ever looks for opportunities to go deep or if his home runs just kind of happen by accident, but this at-bat began with one hell of an opportunity.

That is a fastball, at 91 miles per hour, right down the very center of the strike zone. I could copy and paste the MLB.com Gameday window, or you could take my word for it, or you could take the .gif’s word for it. Matt Belisle is a good reliever, and a better reliever than you probably assumed he would be. He is not a good reliever because he throws fastballs down the very middle to hitters like Giancarlo Stanton. Dinger potential here of 4,000. You can see that the pitch was intended to end up in the low, outside corner. Stanton took the pitch. Unforgivable.

On the next pitch, Stanton pretended like he was getting the same pitch. He didn’t.

Stanton probably always looks like he’s swinging for the fences, but here he was swinging for the fences on a fastball down the center of the zone. What he actually got was a slider off the outer edge. If you’ve ever played a baseball video game where you’re supposed to guess the pitch and location before swinging, you don’t make good contact if you guess centered fastball and get outside slider. Because baseball is just like the video games produced in its image, Stanton didn’t make good contact, or any contact. The pitch had some dinger potential, but not a lot. Stanton had already missed his golden opportunity.

Ahead 0-and-2, Belisle could do whatever he wanted.

Not a whole lot to be done with that pitch. Especially with Stanton taking a more defensive whack than usual. In the eighth inning, with his Marlins behind by a run, Giancarlo Stanton batted and did not mash a dinger, instead returning to the dugout wearing an expression of disappointment.

Now you might be wondering: surely Stanton couldn’t have batted just those two times, right? You would be absolutely right. In the first inning, in the very first inning, with first base open, Stanton was intentionally walked. In the fifth inning, with first base open, Stanton was intentionally walked. Somehow, Stanton has been intentionally walked just five times all season long. Two of those times came on Sunday afternoon, so Stanton’s streak was brought to an end by both his own ineptitude, and by the Rockies’ team cowardice.

You might plead for an asterisk. In all of Stanton’s previous six games in Colorado, he was given at least four opportunities to turn a plate appearance into a dinger. Sunday, he was given just two. Two opportunities are not very many opportunities to hit a home run. But if Giancarlo Stanton has taught us anything, it’s that he ought to be held to literally impossible standards when he’s batting in Coors Field, and as he batted in Coors Field on Sunday, there were pitches he could’ve turned into homers that he didn’t turn into homers. Stanton failed, and the Rockies’ pitching staff was granted a chance to celebrate a victory even rarer than the other, more conventional sort of victory. Which for the Rockies pitching staff is already incredibly rare.

May Giancarlo Stanton never let us down again, for as long as he lives.


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