Giancarlo Stanton is definitively having the worst season of his career. His 94 wRC+ and below-replacement-level results have been disappointing, to say the least. However, this is a player who still has the tools to be an extremely productive hitter. We haven’t seen him go on his traditional one-month bender that carries the offense, but the physical ability to do so lurks in the speed of his rotational power. Unfortunately, his north of 30-percent strikeout rate in the last few months has held him back tremendously this season, but every now and then we get a flash of elite Stanton.
After being no-hit for 10 (!) innings on Sunday afternoon, the Yankees at last wrangled together a few late knocks, including a big one from Stanton. He got a mistake with a chance to tie the game up, and that’s exactly what he did.
The result itself isn’t really what I’m focused on with this at-bat. Instead, I’m worried about the small details that tell me if Stanton can still be a good hitter and make the most of his explosive power. He will be on this team for several more years. Simply said, he needs to figure it out. Players this talented cannot run below-average – or even average – production. Now, let’s get into the at-bat.
Pitch 1 (0-0 count, sinker)
These are the swings that have confused me a ton from Giancarlo. His timing is just so off here. He rushes into his load, making him weirdly early on the low and away slider. I’m not really sure what it is, but his load doesn’t look as clean as it once did. I sometimes wonder if it’s time for a swing adjustment to improve his rhythm, but hey, I’m not the coach.
Pitch 2 (0-1 count, sinker)
This was a good take. Andrew Chafin went lower in the zone to try and yield a groundball, but Stanton didn’t bite. This year, his chase rate is in the 64th percentile. That’s nothing fantastic, but at least we know he isn’t losing his discipline as he reaches his mid-30s. In the 1-1 count, I’d keep my sights set on the outer half, since that is where Chafin seemed to be focused in the first two pitches.
Pitch 3 (1-1 count, slider)
I like the intent of this swing. It was a slow slider that broke into the middle of the plate – a very hittable pitch. Unfortunately, Stanton has had some trouble staying in his hips on slow, low pitches. This is a location where you have to maintain torso bend into pulling the trigger, rather than firing your hips open too soon and your bat path cutting down on the ball. I think this offering was a mistake that should have been crushed, and I’m sure Stanton thought the same. Luckily, you get three strikes in this game. Chafin had struggled to locate during his entire outing. A two-strike count shouldn’t have scared Stanton whatsoever.
Pitch 4 (1-2 count, slider)
Well, he was not scared. The most important note to pay attention to from this swing was he kept his belt buckle nice and closed even as he waited for this pitch to float in. This is a pitch that needs to be taken yard 10 out of 10 times, and Stanton made sure to not let the opportunity pass him by for the 401st of his career.
Any high breaking ball should be at risk of being deposited when this dude is at the plate. However, as the season comes to a close, I’ll have my eye on him against low breaking balls. I want to see some progression or adjustments on staying in his bend as those pitches come in.