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Giancarlo Stanton will make the Yankees so much better

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The slugger’s importance in the team is often overlooked

MLB: New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Statcast certainly loves Giancarlo Stanton. Since the ball-tracking technology came to prominence in 2015, the outfielder has been considered a true Statcast darling, hitting tape-measure home runs with alarmingly high exit velocities.

After missing the majority of the season up to this point with an assortment of injuries, he is expected to return to the Yankees’ lineup at the perfect time. Stanton’s arrival will be help offset the long-term losses of fellow outfielders Mike Tauchman and Aaron Hicks.

After his fantastic 2017, he came to the Bombers via trade before the 2018 season. While some view his final output as disappointing—.266/.343/.509 with 38 home runs and a 128 wRC+—the vast majority of the league would dream of having a line like that.

A man built to shine in Statcast

Consider the following data and Stanton’s rankings:

Giancarlo Stanton Statcast Numbers

Year Avg. Exit Velo Max. Exit Velo Avg. Exit Velo LD/FB Launch Angle
Year Avg. Exit Velo Max. Exit Velo Avg. Exit Velo LD/FB Launch Angle
2015 1st (96 mph) 1st (120.3 mph) 1st (102.5 mph) 15.6 degrees
2016 2nd (93.8 mph) 1st (120.1 mph) 11th (97 mph) 14 degrees
2017 6th (91.9 mph) 1st (122.2 mph) 2nd (99.8 mph) 11.1 degrees
2018 5th (93.7 mph) 1st (121.7 mph) 2nd (99.7 mph)

A few conclusions can be drawn after examining that information. First, and most obviously, Stanton hits the ball hard. He punishes baseballs, making painfully loud contact. It’s video game stuff. In fact, he has registered the single hardest-hit ball of every season in the Statcast era. How amazing is that?

That said, his average launch angle has been quietly decreasing in almost every season since 2015. The slugger needs to loft the ball to put it into the seats. Well-struck groundballs don’t do as much damage as those hit in the air.

Which one is the real Stanton?

It may be unfair to expect 2017 Stanton. After all, that season was an anomaly when it comes to his strikeout percentage. Consider his strikeout rate over the last four seasons:

2015: 29.9%
2016: 29.8%
2017: 23.6%
2018: 29.9%

Baseball fans, no matter the team, will surely remember that 2017 was the season in which Stanton went bonkers and hit 59 home runs while putting a 23.6 K% and a 158 wRC+. Funny enough, that wasn’t a career high.

That said, when a player hits almost 40 dingers, drives in 100 runs, has a 128 wRC+ and finishes with 4.3 WAR in what is considered by some as a “down” year? I want that guy on my team. Talk about fantastic baseline production!

To maximize his strengths and put up greater production, Stanton needs to trim his strikeout rate and start lifting the ball again. If he does that, imagine the possibilities—with the ball flying over American skies as it has during the entirety of the 2019 season, and with Stanton in the batter’s box. Some people like to focus on his 2018 postseason failures, but is it really fair to judge a player over a handful of at-bats?

His potential as a home run threat in the stretch run and in the playoffs is huge, especially if you think of him being joined by the likes of Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Edwin Encarnacion, Luke Voit, Didi Gregorius, DJ LeMahieu, Brett Gardner, and company. Having Stanton back lengthens the lineup even more and gives opposing pitchers no break.

With Stanton in the fold, healthy, and mashing again, the Yankees could have some sort of modern version of the Murderers’ Row.