Q&A: Giancarlo Stanton: Marlin All-Star

Giancarlo Stanton can make hitting look easy. At just 22 years old, the Miami Marlins slugging outfielder combines prodigious power with an ability to hit for a solid average. Last season he belted 34 home runs, and this year he boasts a .283/.365/.555 slash line and has 19 long balls on his ledger. His current-season numbers would be even better were it not for a 12-for-64 stretch from June 1 through June 20.

Currently day-to-day with a balky knee, Stanton will represent the Marlins in next week’s All-Star Game and — health permitting — participate in the Home Run Derby. He discussed his hitting approach during a mid-June visit to Fenway Park.


Stanton on hitting: “The first thing you need is a good pitch to hit. You can feel as good as ever, but if you don’t swing at strikes, you’re not going to be successful. There are times that hitting is very interesting. It’s also a long process. You can feel great and swing at strikes and still make outs, so it’s about consistency. You have to make sure you’re doing the right things and not changing just because you’re not successful for a short time.

“For me, it’s about staying inside the ball and not trying to hurry up on a pitch inside. That’s one of the things when you’re not hitting well, you see the ball inside and think, ‘Boom! I have to get to it real quick.’ It’s more the opposite. You want to be smooth and soft with your body to get to that ball.

“You can’t go and get the ball. It’s already coming at 90-95 mph and if you go after it, that’s going to make it 100-something mph. You have to let it come to you and catch it with the bat.

“Location-wise, I’m mostly looking middle — kind of middle-away — and adjusting. If the ball is inside, I’ll react to that. Being able to drive the ball the other way is huge, otherwise you’re playing a big-league game with half the field. That gives everyone a chance to shift on you, which makes it a smaller field with more defenders. You have to keep the defense honest, as well as the pitcher. You want the pitcher to know, ‘Hey, if you throw it out over the plate, I’ll drive it to the opposite field.’ Being able to do that should be a big part of everybody’s game.

“You have to learn as you face better pitching, because it gets sharper as you go higher up. Those hanging sliders that you can kind of gather for and hit the other way are now cutters, or three or four mph faster. You may not have that extra time to get all of it, so you have to learn patience.

“When I face a pitcher, I want to know if his fastball is straight, or how much it moves. I want to know what his go-to pitches are with runners on. I basically want to know what his main out-pitches are. I like to watch previous games to see how he throws to hitters who are relatively similar to me. I’m more video than reports. I’ll skim reports and study video.

“When I’m not going well, I’m basically rushing. I’m hurrying. I’m basically doing the opposite of what I explained earlier. I’m seeing the ball out over the plate and trying to get to it quick, or I’m trying not to strike out instead of trying to hit. If you come into an at bat thinking, ‘Let’s not strike out,’ then you’re already worrying about being at two strikes. When you’re 0-0, you’re in the driver’s seat.

“Hitting is mostly from the neck up. Once mechanics aren’t a factor any more — which they’re mostly not, at this stage — it’s really about how you think about it.

“You have to be confident, but there are no easy at bats. There are no lay ups; there is no wide open pass. There is a guy on the mound who is trying to feed his family. He‘s not going to give in, and even if he does — even if you know what‘s coming — it‘s still going to be you and a 90-mph ball that‘s [the size of a baseball]. Hitting isn’t easy.”

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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-March 2011 and is a regular contributor to several publications. His first book, Interviews from Red Sox Nation, was published by Maple Street Press in 2006. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

21 Responses to “Q&A: Giancarlo Stanton: Marlin All-Star”

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  1. bstar says:

    That’s some pretty heady stuff for a 22-year-old. He’s definitely not just up there hacking away. How scary will it be if this guy just keeps getting better?

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  2. jarrett says:

    Very mature comments for the young slugger. Lines like this are special:

    “You can’t go and get the ball. It’s already coming at 90-95 mph and if you go after it, that’s going to make it 100-something mph. You have to let it come to you and catch it with the bat.”

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  3. Paul says:

    Very mature and has to be well-coached. We should have this interview and one with Eric Hosmer lined up right next to one another. I guarantee Hosmer’s would sound like a little leaguer by comparison. That right there will completely blow the ridiculous bad luck narrative out of the water. One really talented guy has a good approach, the other doesn’t. And it’s a reflection on both the player and the org.

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    • Greg says:

      One of Hosmer’s strengths coming up was supposed to be his approach. I’m not giving up on him after a bad half season. To me, Stanton may be upper tier Hall of Fame special. Hosmer is probably not that special, but he can still be great. Comparing him to a little leaguer with no evidence to back it up is silly. And this story has nothing to do with Hosmer anyways.

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      • Paul says:

        Comparing a 22 year old with two years in the major leagues to upper tier hall of famer is not silly?

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      • Greg says:

        With the company he’s keeping so far, it’s not that silly to say he may be that special. Plenty of people already. I feel like you’re just trying to argue. I think we all agree: Stanton’s awesome and hopefully he has a long, healthy career…let’s move on.

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      • Paul says:

        First of all, it’s the comments section and pretty much intended for argument. You’re the one that responded to me and threw out words like silly, and stating I have no evidence to back up Hosmer’s poor approach, then claiming that I’m trying to argue? Even Rex Hudler, who was brought in to be the broadcast cheerleader, notes how poor his approach is now.

        Comparing Stanton to Hosmer was emphasizing Stanton’s maturity, and a running theme here with the tension between then known phenomenon of BABIP regression and specific phenomena related to things like approach, park factors, defense, etc., which are hard to measure especially in season.

        Nobody has a problem with having a take here, but don’t come in and start calling takes silly then get pissy when you get hit back.

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      • evo34 says:

        Settle down, Paul…. The main problem with your original comment is that no one here has claimed that Stanton and Hosmer have equal talent. And now you’re running around “guaranteeing” what a theoretical Hosmer interview might read like, and if this imaginary interview actually took place the way you think it would, how it would vindicate your view that Hosmer has a terrible approach and has thus ruined his otherwise equal-to-Stanton’s talent.

        The whole thing is made of straw…

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    • @evo34 and paul says:

      i seem to remember there was a Hosmer interview

      here you go: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/qa-eric-hosmer/

      now continue bickering

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  4. Henry says:

    i love that last paragraph

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    • Aaron says:

      I had that exact thought

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    • Ken says:

      I’m still oddly bothered by the whole pro athlete “feed my family” line. I’m pretty sure the roughly $500k per year MLB minimum should cover that particular expense.

      Everything else, though, fantastic read.

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      • One says:

        I think he means to humanize the pitcher who’s trying to do his job while Stanton’s trying to do his. He means to say, there are no easy pitchers to hit against in this league. Stanton’s not talking about his own salary.

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  5. fergie348 says:

    That’s a pretty impressive approach for a 22 year old. He’s a special hitter, and I hate seeing my team face him.

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  6. ThePartyBird says:

    Wow. It’s amazing how he combines being one of the strongest players in baseball (probably the strongest) with a coaching-level understanding of the game. This is a special player and I hope Miami holds on to him (unless it’s another blockbuster trade to Detroit, of course)

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  7. RC says:

    Why do people think 22 year olds are idiots?

    He’s well spoken, and plenty of young people are. Thats got nothing to do with maturity.

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    • Paul says:

      I think the general tone of the comments has been that he is so freakishly talented that he could at least be really good even without that approach. I think it’s hard to argue that his is an exceptionally mature approach for a 22 year old, especially a power hitter. I believe it was Mike Newman who said he’s the only player he’s ever put a 80 tag on for power.

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    • Baltar says:

      I was 22, and I was an idiot. Pretty much so until I was at least 28.
      In an admittedly subjective valuation, most people in their 20’s are pretty immature, and that goes double for baseball players.
      Judging only by Stanton’s comments above, he definitely deserves credit for intelligence and maturity.

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      • RC says:

        Maybe it goes doubly for baseball players, but “most people in their 20s are pretty immature” is nothing other than thinly veiled “get off my lawn you damn kids”.

        Frankly, its offensive.

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  8. Bret says:

    What a wonderful interview. I love how self-reflective he is. I can tell from reading his words that he’s an excellent and highly skilled learner, someone who is truly interested in studying the game.

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  9. pm says:

    Stanton out 4-6 weeks. fangraphs curse in full effect. Can you please get that douche Chase Utley in your next interview?

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