Typically we highlight the best of the best at-bats on this weekly series, but today, we’re taking this as an opportunity to figure out what’s wrong with Giancarlo Stanton. This has been the worst statistical season of his career, but it’s not exactly clear why. We know the injury has plagued him for the better part of the year, but even so, we know he has played banged up in the past and still been at least a 130 wRC+ hitter.
He is a streaky hitter. We know that as truth. However, even in his slumps he manages to be a decently productive hitter. This June was an extreme example of that (142 wRC+ and .176 batting average), but it’s still a good representation of him being able to find his pitch when his timing and/or pitch recognition is not at its finest. Anyways, I’m going to use an at-bat Big G had against Chris Archer as an opportunity to point out some the key things he needs to overcome to lift himself out of this slump.
Standard take here on a 0-0 count. I’ve never been able to predict when Stanton will ambush the first pitch or not. He does on fastballs and breaking balls against all types of pitchers, making it very difficult to do so. There isn’t much to take away from this pitch, but I’ll leave you with this. Pay attention to when Stanton starts up his load on every pitch for the rest of the at-bat. 0-1 count.
The toe tap has always been something in Stanton’s game to keep him grounded. Many hitters do it and have done it, one of them being Derek Jeter. He obviously used it in a different way from Stanton, but the idea behind it is the same. Keep your rhythm and energy flowing as you prepare for the pitch to come in.
If you remember the AB of the Week from last week, you’d recall that Stanton had multiple good takes through the course of the at-bat. A similar theme carried on here. He isn’t chasing pitches he can’t do damage with or make contact with. He is doing a decent job at waiting for something to come to him, but simply isn’t able to do much damage when it does. In this 2-1 count, I was hoping for Stanton to get started early and get his barrel out in front of the plate.
Unfortunately, Stanton did not. A very common saying to hear in the baseball community is to get your foot down on time. That cue never made much sense to me. I know it works for some, but it makes more sense to me to get your foot up on time. Rushing your swing is never a good idea. It throws off the kinetic chain and can lead to too heavy of a landing. I’m guessing this is a physical limitation Stanton is having. As a hitter with more bat speed than anybody on the planet, he doesn’t have to get up too soon. That can be a perfect explanation as to why he isn’t crushing backed up sliders like this one, or swinging through a 94-mph Chris Archer fastball like he did in his first at-bat.
Even in giving himself less time to pull the trigger, he is still recognizing pitches well and laying off a nicely tunneled two-pitch sequence. In this full count, I want the same thing from Stanton. Get the barrel out in front of the zone and give yourself enough to do so!
Ugh. I know it’s a body thing, rather than a swing hole, but it’s still sad to see. Stanton hitting sliders for hard groundballs isn’t the best sign. He is going to hit rocket groundballs to second base frequently because of his flat swing, but those usually come on fastballs not sliders. T
his tells me his point of contact isn’t where it needs to be. His 109 mph exit velocity is useless if he’s making deep contact on sliders. Get the barrel out slightly more and you have a line drive up the middle or in the gap. I’m not sure he will be at 100 percent at any point for the rest of the season, so I hope he tries to make this timing adjustment to give himself a chance to lift these pitches. He is so strong and has such great pitch recognition that he doesn’t need to be 100 percent to give the Yankees what they need. Fingers crossed the ankle stays manageable and he can work around this.