Giancarlo Stanton was “pissed off” this off-season about the changes made to the Miami Marlins, and he came in to camp proclaiming that he wasn’t “going to lay over and let everybody stomp on [his team].”
That’s a lot to put on a 23-year old, but Stanton is showing exactly what he means so far in Spring Training.
The team’s only remaining star has been, to no surprise, a factor in every single game that the Marlins have played on their Grapefruit League schedule thus far, getting on base in all five games, and leading the team with six hits.
Three of those came on Thursday in what might have been an early coming-out party for the slugger, who, ironically enough, went a home run shy of a cycle in a 3-for-3 day.
Stanton kept his on-base streak alive on Friday with a walk, as well as a sac-fly. The pair of walks he has at this point in early spring is a positive sign that he’s seeing the ball well, and though his .400/.444/.800 triple-slash comes off of a minuscule 15 at-bat sample size, it would be no surprise to see him maintain it.
On top of that, he’s doing what he can do make sure he can stay on the field long enough to do so. According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Stanton has been working on increasing strength and conditioning in his legs by ramping up his running regiment in the off-season, done to make sure the days of his knee troubles are behind him.
It’s no secret that Stanton played most of last season with loose bodies in his knee until he decided to have arthroscopic surgery before the All-Star break to get it taken care of. It limited him to just 501 PA in 2012, and you could say that it affected his performance at the plate, too.
Yes, it will seem like a minor complaint, considering that Stanton put up an excellent .284/.364/.554 triple slash in the first half, with 19 homers in 321 PA – after almost going through all of April without a homer.
But after the surgery? That line jumped to .299/.356/.701 to put his OPS over the 1.000 mark, and he hit 18 homers in 180 PA.
So, in short, a healthy Stanton hit almost as many homers as an ailing one, but doing so in 56 percent of the plate appearances.
Those second half numbers would put him on a 60-homer pace over 600 plate appearances. It’s a giant number, but if you’ve watched Stanton much over the last couple of seasons, you’ll know that if there’s anyone who can break that mark – it’s the 23-year old.
Now, only five games into the Grapefruit League season, a motivated Stanton is giving the Marlins a preview of his ability to put the team on his shoulders.
With a healthy knee to start the season, is there any doubt that he can carry the load?