I’m always unsure what version of Giancarlo Stanton we’re going to see when he returns from injury. He could come back fully healthy and taking fantastic swings, or he could come back and show that he doesn’t have his legs under him. This time around, it’s clear that he is healthy and feeling like the best version of himself. He had an extremely positive weekend in Los Angeles – hitting a laser home run and double in the gap.
That double came at a crucial point for the Yankees. In a tied up game with no Aaron Judge in the lineup, Stanton was the superstar on the field for his team and they needed a big hit. In a five pitch at-bat, he took great swings, had a fantastic take, and ended up scorching a patented low line drive. Let’s jump into how he got to that while facing Evan Phillips.
Pitch 1 (0-0 count)
This is a pretty easy take on 0-0. Usually, if you catch Stanton being overly aggressive on the first pitch, it’ll be him waving at a breaking ball below the zone because he was guessing fastball. Running sinker into his hands aren’t the kind of pitch you’ll see him chase at this stage in a count. Now with him ahead 1-0, I’d expect the same guessing Stanton that we’ve become accustomed to seeing.
Pitch 2 (1-0 count)
This is one of the big perks of having command of your sweeper. When you fall behind in the count, you can use the pitch’s deception to get hitters to spit on the pitch in the strike zone. Similar to a big curveball, it’s the type of pitch you can just drop in and steal a strike. The thing is, Stanton saw this pitch very well. From time to time, he will vary between ugly takes and takes like this where he decelerates smoothly and has a quick whip of the barrel without a full swing. If I was Will Smith, I would not call this pitch again to follow up in the 1-1 count.
Pitch 3 (1-1 count)
Stanton was just a hair too late on this one. The change of speeds between the sweeper and this running sinker was enough to sneak by Stanton even with the location in the middle of the plate. You may notice that Stanton was falling back as he finished his swing. That was due to his swing being slightly late and his direction of rotation falling backwards instead of staying on a rotating plane. Stanton scissor kicks on almost all of his swings but on this one it was his front foot that fell off to the side. The great hitters make immediate adjustments after swings like this and get their bat to the ideal depth to catch a barrel.
Pitch 4 (1-2 count)
Phillips made it easy on Stanton with this spiked breaking ball. Out of the hand this is an easy take. Stanton let it go in the ground and now had himself a 2-2 count. So far, he has taken a good, but slightly late swing and had a great take on a sweeper. The only thing left is getting the timing of the take to match the aggression of the swing.
Pitch 5 (2-2 count)
Right on right sweepers with this much movement can be lethal if put in the right location, but against a hitter with Stanton’s swing path, it can be brutal. His flat path combined with a sideways moving pitch are a perfect combination if you catch the ball far enough in the front of the plate, and that he did! It’s great to see him in this form against a nasty reliever immediately after he returned. He looks like the hitter that can carry a lineup on his own.