One of the main contributors to the Yankees offense over the past few months has been Giancarlo Stanton, who shook off a rough start to his career in the Bronx to put together what has been another productive season. Stanton responded to the Aaron Judge injury by posting a 154 wRC+ over the month of August, his highest monthly mark of the season so far. It was also his second month with a wRC+ over 150, and it was all done with a bum hamstring that confined Stanton to a DH role to make sure Aaron Boone didn’t lose Stanton’s bat.
Towards the end of August, Stanton started showing some troubling reminders of his early season struggles as his strikeout numbers began to climb once again. Some thought he might be pressing as he searched for his 300th career home run, and took just under 50 plate appearances to finally record the historic dinger. With the milestone out of the way, Stanton has still been struggling to make contact, even on pitches in the zone.
Stanton’s 299th career homer came in a series against the Blue Jays in the Bronx, but since that series, Stanton is slugging just .236 with 24 strikeouts over a 14-game span. Over a third of his plate appearances in these past 14 games has resulted in a strikeout, while the slugger has managed just three extra-base hits, including homer number 300. Prior to this recent skid, it took Stanton 22 games to record 24 strikeouts, and his OPS during that span was 1.054.
What has brought on this recent hiccup? Interestingly enough, there has been little change to his swing percentage on balls outside the zone. From the beginning of August to his 299th career homer, Stanton swung at 32.5 percent of pitches out of the strike zone. That total has actually dropped five percent in his last 14 games. His contact percentage on balls out of the zone is almost identical as well. The big difference is contact within the strike zone.
Stanton’s percentage in that area is at 79 percent over the last 14 contests, which is down from 87.5 percent over the three weeks preceding his slump. He’s also swinging at balls in the zone less, as his Z-swing percentage is down over 10 percent. Perhaps Stanton is trying to do too much at the plate when he gets a pitch in the zone. As we all have seen from Stanton in his career and this season, it doesn’t take much for him to drive a ball out of the park, so he could just need to recollect himself and regain more control with his swing.
Again, looking at the numbers, this doesn’t look like Stanton’s slow April, when he was chasing balls in the dirt and hearing boos from the Yankee Stadium crowd. It may just take a minor adjustment from Stanton to start doing damage within the strike zone again. In the long run, 14 games is just a blip on the radar screen, and given the slump he overcame early in the season, odds are Stanton will be just fine.