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Giancarlo Stanton’s weird June has shown some encouraging signs

The feared slugger has struggled to tally many hits, but he’s getting on base and making his contact count.

Houston Astros v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Giancarlo Stanton has been good this season, and is about as important as anyone in this Yankee lineup. The slugger has swatted 18 home runs in 61 games, and has hit for a 138 wRC+ thus far. Those are great numbers, and solidly in line with the recent production we have seen from Stanton for the Yankees. In June, he has maintained this general level of production, while seemingly dealing with struggles in other aspects at the plate. Though his batting average would make it look as if this has been a rough month for Stanton, the overall production has still been there. There even may be some encouraging signs, as he is making his contact worthwhile, and hasn’t sacrificed his approach at the plate.

So far this season, Stanton’s 138 wRC+ has been the second best mark among lineup regulars for New York, trailing Aaron Judge of course, and just a tick ahead of Anthony Rizzo. His bat is obviously vital to the team’s success — as a second supremely fearsome presence behind Judge, and simply as the good hitter that he is.

In the month of June, Stanton’s wRC+ sits at 131, a very good number and one that’s relatively in line with his season to date. In that same time range however, Stanton has tallied just 10 hits, and is sporting a seemingly-paltry .149 batting average. Both of these would point to a rough month at the dish, but Stanton has found a way to produce through it.

Perhaps most importantly, when the outfielder is making contact and putting the ball in play, he is making it count. Of those 10 hits he has recorded, seven have been home runs. Each of his last five hits have gone for homers as well.

These are all of Stanton’s hits in the month of June, I would say that is a clear example of quality over quantity.

On top of this, Stanton’s approach at the plate may actually be improving in this stretch. He is still hitting the ball harder than anyone, as expected, and his discipline appears to be trending in a positive direction as well. Since the beginning of June, the outfielder has posted a 19 percent walk rate and 26.2 percent strikeout rate. This is in contrast to the 8.3 percent and 28 percent respective rates he was putting up when the end of May rolled around.

This progression is generally always encouraging to see in a player, but particularly so in Stanton’s case. For the first few months his walk rate was uncharacteristically low, and seeing his strikeout rate stay relatively stable while improving the walk rate seems ideal. And his lack of hits during this stretch can be at least partially attributed to poor luck, his BABIP sits at a miniscule .079, as he continues to generally hit the ball in Stantonian fashion.

This odd but productive month should seemingly address a lot of the negative perception Stanton receives from time to time. If he is able to make these occasional contact slumps more bearable, with better plate discipline and quality results when he does put the ball in play, the effects would be less consequential, especially to the naked eye.

Much of the criticism during Stanton’s slumps is unwarranted. There has basically never been a season where he is on the field and he’s not producing, even in his lost and injury-riddled campaigns. When he is playing, he is productive and dangerous with the bat.

Stanton is a deeply important piece of this Yankee team, and has played a big role in its success to this point. This month, as his bat may be faltering in some areas, likely due in some part to poor luck, Stanton is actually showing some improvements at the plate. This is something that is particularly encouraging, as someone who has a history, swing, and profile that is prone to some slumps over he course of a season. He continues to mash the ball when he puts it in play, and is showing some improved discipline at the plate. These changes bode well for his production in this lineup, if his valleys aren’t as low as they have been in the past, that only improves upon his already great value.