2022 was an odd year for Giancarlo Stanton. For much of the season, he was very much himself, but after returning from a month long injury absence in late August, he struggled quite a bit. Through it all, he still did many of the alien things only he can do, which is encouraging. All in all, it was a down year for the veteran slugger, but what is there to take from it, and what does it mean going forward?
2022 Statistics: 110 games, 452 PA, .211/.297/.462, 115 wRC+, 1.2 fWAR
2023 Contract Status: Entering ninth year of 13-year, $325 million contract
Despite the mostly disappointing finish to his campaign, there were some good things to take from Stanton’s 2022. He went on the shelf in late July with an Achilles injury, but up until that point, he was still Giancarlo Stanton. In the first half of the season, the big right-hander had a 134 wRC+, slashing .237/.319/.516. Essentially, he did all of the excellent things we’ve come to expect from him, and even won the MVP at this year’s All-Star Game.
During the Yankees dominant first half, Stanton was a vital part of the lineup, sitting just behind Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge. He wasn’t quite on the incredible pace Judge was, but he hit an impressive 24 homers in just 76 games. He was about what he should be, an All-Star level hitter who can crush the ball like no one else. Unfortunately, this didn’t last the entire season.
Stanton suffered an Achilles injury and missed just over a month in the second half. Upon his return, he didn’t look the same. He was consistently behind the fastball, and just wasn’t producing overall. In the second half of the year he managed a paltry 68 wRC+. Stanton needs to be able to punish fastballs in order produce at his standard levels, and he just couldn’t consistently hurt pitchers when they came in the zone with heat.
Big picture, taking into account his lackluster second half, this was Stanton’s worst season of any length that he’s had in his career. He finished with a 115 wRC+ and just 1.2 fWAR on the year. This was also his first season with at least 400 plate appearances in which he had a strikeout rate over 30 percent, and it was near 40 percent after his return from the IL. The overall jump wasn’t massive, though, and he maintained the solid walk rate he’s used to.
As rough as his post-injury performance may have been, he still managed to have his moments.
As a whole, 2022 was one of Stanton’s most underwhelming performances thus far. But it should be considered that his numbers were uncharacteristically low following his return from the IL, dragging down an otherwise typical year. It is also worth noting that his peripherals remained very solid, boasting some deep reds on the ol’ Savant page.
As you can see, he can still destroy the ball. But he also mostly maintained the discipline and swing decision numbers that have served him so well over the course of his career, which is encouraging.
I don’t think there be too much concern going forward. I think our B- assessment is right on the nose; not a bad year, a bit disappointing by his standards, not quite a massive red flag yet. He has never stopped doing all the things that have made him great in his career, he just had a rough month after coming back from a lower half injury.
Stanton is now 33-years-old, given his age and history with the injured list, the chances of him seeing much time in the outfield seem slim. But he was brought in to crush the ball, and he can still do that with the best of ‘em. All things considered, we should still expect Stanton to slug when healthy in 2023.