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Yankees fans shouldn’t forget about Giancarlo Stanton

The slugger was a non-factor last season, but if healthy, he can still be a game changer for the Yankees.

MLB: ALCS-New York Yankees at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Following a dismal showing in the 2018 ALDS, many were eager to see how Giancarlo Stanton would perform in 2019. Unfortunately, shortly after smashing a 120.6 mph single on Opening Day (which would stand as the hardest hit ball of the entire season), Stanton suffered a biceps strain, then a knee injury, then an injury to his quad, which took him out of the postseason after mashing a home run in game one of the ALCS.

Given Stanton’s underwhelming end to 2018 and sparing appearances in 2019, it’s easy to forget that at 30 years old, the slugger still has the potential to be an impact player. He still has the resume to justify that 2019 could have been nothing more than an outlier. Fans will likely carry a sense of doubt into 2020 when it comes to Stanton, but as long as he can avoid injury, there’s no reason to believe he can’t be the dynamic power bat that he’s been for years.

Stanton only appeared in 18 games for the Yankees last season, but even in that time, he showed what he can do when relatively healthy, and even a little rusty. Stanton recorded nine barrels on 36 batted balls last season, good for a 25% clip. For reference, his barrel percentage in 2017, his MVP season, was 17.4%, of course in a much larger sample size.

He also posted a hard-hit rate of 45.7%, showing he still has that ridiculous big baseball boy power. Of course, none of that matters if he can’t stay on the field and be a factor, but one injury-riddled season shouldn’t diminish what he’s done in the recent past. Stanton played 159 games in 2017, when of course being a DH wasn’t an option, and played in 158 in 2018, when he helped carry the Yankees through August with a 156 wRC+ while Aaron Judge was hurt. Stanton was hampered by injuries in 2019, but that’s hardly a trend.

Steamer seems to agree that Stanton’s 2019 season was an anomaly. Those projections have Stanton playing in 143 games next season, smacking 49 home runs while posting a 142 wRC+. Of course, that could wind up being wrong, but it’s still interesting to note that the projections see Stanton coming back healthy and producing at a high level next season, and why wouldn’t it? Again, Stanton is only 30 years old and had the entire offseason to heal from the multiple different injuries that plagued him last year.

It’s highly unlikely that Stanton will ever put up the kind of season he did in 2017. But he’s still more than capable of staying healthy and eclipsing 45 home runs, which the Yankees would take in an instant. Will his contract become tough to swallow in his later years? But we haven’t reached that point yet. Stanton has plenty of pop left in his bat. As long as he can stay in the lineup, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be one of the top power hitters in baseball in 2020.