Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/14/14
Injuries aside, the knock on Giancarlo Stanton is something he can’t control: the team around him. Blessed with prodigious power, it’s exciting to think what Stanton could do in a place like Fenway with the Green Monster in left field and an elite offense around him. Instead, Stanton is stuck in the Crayola Canyon with a AAA team of hitters providing lineup protection and limited RBI chances. Over the last three years, the Marlins have scored just 1,747 runs. That’s only 582 per season and 3.6 per game. Their team .368 SLG over that span is also dead last, and if you subtract Stanton’s contributions, the rest of the team falls to a pitiful .348. That puts the entire team in the Ichiro Suzuki/Gregor Blanco class of sluggers. Of the 140 players to tally 500 PA last year, only eight slugged .348 or lower. Presumably, they all started for the Marlins. As a result, opponents are pitching around Stanton more than almost anyone else. Last year, just 38.2% of the pitches Stanton saw were in the strike zone. That was the second-lowest total in the league with Pablo Sandoval‘s 33.9% paving the way (would you pitch to such a free-swinger either?). It’s not surprising to see a power hitter get pitched around, but even the King of Raking, Miguel Cabrera, saw more hittable pitches than Stanton. The following chart shows where Stanton fit in the context of the league during the 2013 season. Fewer hittable pitches means lower swing rates (unless you’re Sandoval, Stanton’s was 34th-lowest), and fewer swings means fewer HR. That’s simple logic that anyone could follow. Though Stanton hit just 24 HR in his 504 PA last year, we can take solace in the fact that he posted a slightly below average 38.5 FB% and a low-for-him 21.8 HR/FB rate. Even though Stanton hit a ton of infield flies, which lower his HR/FB rate, we should expect something closer to 28-30 from a player as strong as him. Let’s take Stanton’s 2013 season and adjust his HR total assuming a 40.0 FB% and 28.0 HR/FB. Quick calculations give us a 32 HR season with this scenario, and keep in mind that’s in just 504 PA. We project Stanton for 620 PA below. With those same FB% and HR/FB rates, Stanton would hit 39 HR over 620 PA. Again, it’s simple logic and basic arithmetic, but that’s the foundation of our projection methodology and it’s how we arrived at our 2014 Stanton projection below. At A Glance Strengths: HR, OBP, SLG, OPS, BB Neutral: R, RBI, 2B Weaknesses: SB, BA, K, 3B Players With Similar Fantasy Value Jose Bautista Jay Bruce Chris Davis 2014 Fantasy Baseball Projection 2014 Projection: 620 PA, 78 R, 39 HR, 91 RBI, 4 SB, .262 BA Overall Rank: 47 | OF Rank: 17 It’ll take some very improbable production for Stanton to exceed our projected numbers. Someone will pay for the 40-45 HR potential (or more). For 2014 alone, I don’t think that’s a very good idea. Our projection already assumes full playing time and a near-30% HR/FB rate. It’ll take some very improbable production for Stanton to exceed our projected numbers. With his K% still high (27%) and his IFFB% among the league’s worst, I don’t see how he hits for a very good BA. Our projected .262 mark is still a 13-point improvement from last year. The R and RBI are in line with his terrible lineup, so where is the extra production coming from? You can play the “but power is at a premium!” card with me all you want. I’m not going to own Stanton at whatever price he’s going to cost, and we haven’t even addressed the fact that he’s gotten hurt in each of the last two years (hamstring strain and knee surgery). He went 31st overall in our early 2014 mock draft, which is easily a full round before where I’d feel OK drafting him. 2015 & Beyond The Marlins’ offense isn’t going to get better any time soon, so you really can’t expect Stanton to increase his HR total well beyond 40 unless he starts to accrue a ton more PA or he begins hitting a bunch more fly balls. Last year Crush Davis turned in the type of season we’d love to see from Stanton (50+ HR) despite posting a similarly low 39.8 Zone%, but Davis hit fly balls 45.7% of the time and accrued 673 PA. Stanton could achieve the same FB%, though it would take a noticeable improvement, but he’s unlikely to reach that same PA total batting for an inferior team in the NL. Should he leave Miami, though, the sky is the limit.
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