New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton is no stranger to etching his name in baseball’s history books. After all, this is a guy who just clubbed 59 home runs — tied with some guy named Babe Ruth for the ninth-most ever in a single season — in 2017, which ended up being an MVP campaign.
Stanton was at it again on Sunday during an extra-inning affair in the Bronx against the Baltimore Orioles. The only problem was that he made the kind of history he’ll likely never want to talk about again.
Woof. To make matters worse, both of those five-strikeout performances came at Yankee Stadium.
He’d undoubtedly love to start cutting away at his 41.7% strikeout rate sooner rather than later. However, it’s worth noting that he’s still been somewhat productive when his at-bats don’t end with him going down on strikes.
Stanton’s numbers are certainly buoyed by a two-homer, four-RBI performance from Opening Day, but he’s slashing .167/.271/.429 overall with 3 homers, 7 RBI, and 5 runs scored in 48 plate appearances. When we add in a 12.5% walk rate to this, he’s the current owner of a 97 wRC+ and .309 wOBA.
Is there plenty of room for improvement? Well, duh. Could it be a lot worse when considering the history he just made? You betcha.
The good news here is that Stanton’s 31.5% chase rate isn’t far off from the 27.5% mark he produced last year. That’s significant because the 12.3% walk rate he finished with was the highest it had been since 2014. His 65.5% swing rate on strikes is virtually the same as his 2017 production (65.8%), and he’s still hitting the ball hard. After posting a 38.9% hard-hit rate last year, his current number in that department is 50.0%.
The biggest issue at the moment, as one could imagine, is making contact. Stanton’s 59.4% contact rate on strikes and 18.2% swinging-strike rate would both be career worsts if the season ended today, but this is baseball, guys. He still has another 152 games to right the ship. Even though it seems as if his bat is ice cold right now, he can just as easily catch fire.
Like, you know, when he hit 30 homers and posted a 210 wRC+ with a .505 ISO over a two-month span in July and August last year (240 plate appearances).
This pair of five-strikeout games isn’t how Stanton envisioned getting his Yankee career started in front of the home crowd, but once he gets a little more comfortable in his new diggs, things will start falling into place.
At least, that’s definitely what he’s telling himself while shielding his eyes from Sunday’s box scores.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.