Before we get into the particulars of this article, I just wanted to begin with a friendly reminder that, despite the detractors, Giancarlo Stanton has been gold for the Yankees in high leverage situations. In 49 such situations (good for the most on the team) as of Sunday morning, Stanton is slashing .347/.400/.592 with 3 homers, 25 RBI, and a 168 wRC+.
On Saturday night, we were treated to arguably the biggest hit by a Yankee this season, and it came courtesy of Giancarlo Stanton’s bat. Anyone who has been paying attention to baseball since 2010 knows how hard Stanton hits the ball, but the situation around this one made it truly spectacular.
On the losing end of a 2-1 score in the eighth inning of a near-must-win ball game against division rival/archnemesis Boston Red Sox, Stanton stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and promptly sent the first pitch he saw into orbit over the Green Monster. In all my years of watching baseball, it was easily one of the best grand slams I have ever seen. I mean, just look at the Statcast data on it:
A true work of art. For those of you who were unlucky enough to miss it, here’s the video (and here’s the Red Sox call, for the sake of comedy):
Watching that grand slam for the hundredth time got me thinking about all of the other occasions that Stanton has come through in big situations for the Yankees since he arrived in New York in 2018. Aside from the above, here are four other times he came up with key hits at crucial times for the Yankees.
June 20, 2018: First Walk-off as a Yankee
Going into the ninth inning of this game, the Yankees were tied with the Mariners at five runs apiece. After Didi Gregorius singled with two outs, Stanton unleashed a truly Stantonian blast on an 0-2 count to lift the Yankees to victory. The home run was his first walk-off hit as a member of the New York Yankees, and it helped propel the Yankees to a sweep of the Mariners.
While it’s easy to see the Statcast data below and think “yeah, well, that’s just what Stanton does,” it’s important to recognize how truly ridiculous it is that this data is now seen as normal for him:
His Entire 2020 Postseason Run
I’ll admit that this is a bit of a cheat, as it’s taking multiple games within one pick. But how could one choose just one of Stanton’s 2020 playoff moments? He was almost too much for opposing pitchers to handle.
After being limited to just 23 games in the regular season, Stanton was a one-man wrecking crew in the postseason against both Cleveland and the Tampa Bay Rays. In seven playoff games, Stanton slashed .308/.387/1.038 while crushing a ridiculous six home runs, including a truly remarkable stretch of five straight games with at least one home run. That was good for a 254 wRC+.
Of particular note, though, was his performance in Game 2 of the ALDS. After falling behind early, 1-0, Stanton hit an absolute laser off of a hanging breaking ball from Rays’ ace Tyler Glasnow in the second inning to tie the game at one.
Then, in Stanton’s next at-bat, he followed that performance up with a truly ridiculous display of power. Down 5-1 in the fourth inning with Aaron Hicks and Luke Voit on base, Stanton absolutely demolished a middle-middle fastball off of Glasnow to make it a 5-4 ballgame. To this day, it is still one of the most impressive home runs I’ve ever seen.
Although the Yankees ultimately lost this game 7-5, Stanton was the sole reason that this game was even remotely close. And, aside from the 12-3 laugher in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series against Cleveland, that statement is true of the entire 2020 postseason run. It was truly one for the ages.
August 12, 2021: Field of Dreams Home Run
Entering the ninth inning of the Field of Dreams Game down 7-4, Aaron Judge hit a big two-run home run off Liam Hendriks to make it a one-run game. Stanton then stepped into the box with two outs and, well, he sent yet another ball rocketing into the night sky. When it landed, it was a tie game, and some innocent corn was reduced to mush. Unfortunately due to the setting, there’s no Statcast data available from this game, but I’m willing to bet that the exit velocity was somewhere around 10,000 mph, or however fast a rocket travels.
While the Yankees ended up blowing the game in the bottom of the ninth, this home run really felt like a huge momentum boost for the Yankees season. Coming into this game, the team found themselves mired in a stretch of spectacularly uninspiring baseball. For the first time in a long time, this game showed a spark of life from a team that otherwise looked dead in the water at certain points of the season. And of course that spark was provided, in part, by Stanton.
September 3, 2021: The Day Stanton Nearly Broke Statcast
I never thought I’d consider a single against the Baltimore Orioles a key moment, yet here we are for two reasons: (1) It is the hardest hit groundball since Statcast started measuring hits, and (2) It was the walk-off hit in a very important game against the lowly Baltimore Orioles to keep pace with the rest of the Wild Card race.
With Judge acting as a ghost runner (thanks, Manfredball) in a 3-3 game in the bottom of the 11th, Stanton hammered a single to centre field to give the Yankees the victory. While we can sit here and debate how sad it is that the Yankees let Baltimore take them to extras—and, rest assured, it is sad—this is exactly the type of high leverage situation that Stanton has been excelling in all season long. Besides, any time you break the brains of math nerds across the league, it’s worth some recognition.
There are some people out there who seem to think that Stanton’s grand slam against the Red Sox finally earned him his pinstripes. It’s about time we recognize the fact that he earned them a long time ago. He has been coming through in high leverage situations since he joined the team in 2018, and, hopefully for us fans, we’ll be able to see more Stantonian moments like these in the near future.
*Author’s note: I wrote and submitted this article before Stanton unleashed his mammoth two-run shot in the eighth inning against the Red Sox last night, but I wouldn’t have been able to rest easy without including that missile in here: 116.4 mph, 24 degree launch angle, 448 feet, and yet another incredible moment. Wow.