Why Giancarlo Stanton is Back
In one of the songs from the hit musical “Hamilton,” the actor playing Thomas Jefferson raps/sings the line, “For every action there’s an equal opposite reaction.” That’s always been my philosophy when dealing with a baseball player with an established track record who is either red hot or ice cold. I rarely panic or get overly excited because, absent an injury, I like to think that every streak will eventually be followed by an equal streak the other way. So, in other words, I wrote “Hamilton.” You’re welcome, America.
On June 8, I wrote an article analyzing Stanton’s struggles. I looked at every possible metric, tested every possible theory, and in the end came away with a basic shoulder shrug. Without going into too much detail, I concluded that it is probably just a horrendous slump caused by facing too many righties and too many sliders, and that he’d work his way out of it. Why? Because “26-year-old elite players do not suddenly forget how to hit. It doesn’t happen.”
June 8 was three weeks ago, but let’s use the last two weeks as our barometer because it’s pretty obvious that Giancarlo Stanton read my article exactly two weeks ago. On June 8, Stanton’s slash line was .202/.318/.452. In the last two weeks, it’s .386/.477/.659. That’s a 1.136 OPS. We’re talking Babe Ruth and Ted Williams territory.
Without going crazy into the metrics, it’s fair to say that everything that Stanton was doing wrong in the first two months, he’s doing right in the last two weeks. In the early part of the season, Stanton was getting eaten alive by fastballs. Over the last two weeks, he’s batting .300 against them with a 1.000 slugging percentage. He’s cut his strikeout percentage, which was at a Rob Deer-esque 34.2%, to 27.0% over the past two weeks. Oh, and he also broke the record for the hardest hit ball ever recorded, with a grounder at 123.9 MPH (which, by the way, turned into a double play, because, you know, baseball). In other words, Stanton is as hot now as he was cold the first two months of the season.
So, is this new Stanton for real? Well, no. This version of Stanton is better than the normal version of Stanton, who has a career .900 OPS and a career batting average of .266. This is just market correction. This is things evening out. This is Thomas Jefferson reminding you that every action has an equal opposite reaction. But, this streak shows that Stanton is just fine and, as I brilliantly predicted, has not just forgotten how to hit.
Given how long Stanton’s cold streak lasted, you can probably expect Stanton to stay hot for awhile. When the dust settles, so long as he stays healthy, Stanton is likely going to give you similar numbers to what you expected when you drafted him. So, if you rejected countless buy-low offers for him or are able to acquire him for less than full value, at the end of the season, you know who to thank. Not me. Just take out a $10 bill and give Alexander Hamilton a nod of appreciation for his help.