Stanton’s Got That Super Swing

Florida Marlins OF prospect Mike Stanton leads all the minor leagues with 13 home runs in 25 games. He’s playing in a league that typically depresses run scoring, in a home park that (as recently as two years ago) doesn’t make home runs easy (.94 HR Park Factor). If Stanton continues at this torrid pace, he will almost surely bypass AAA and move straight to Miami. Until then, he’ll have to make do as the Minors Top Hitting Prospect.

When he does get the call, teams will scramble for scouting reports to look for an edge over the Marlins newest toy. Talents like Stanton are the types that can swing a race in the second half, so you can bet NL East teams are hot after the big slugger’s weaknesses. He hasn’t shown many this year, but I thought going over a spray chart of his balls in play might tell us something. It does.

The 13 Home Runs

In all, we have six home runs to left, two to left-center, three to center field, and two home runs hit the opposite way. Six were off pitchers that have, at one time or another, been praised as legit big league prospects: Erik Cordier, Jake Thompson, Sean Watson, Dallas Buck, Justin Cassel and Nick Hill. Three home runs were against left-handed pitchers, and just two were on the road, but this is more a product of opportunity than an indictment of weakness.

The Ball-in-Play Hits

Culled from the play-by-play logs at MiLB.com, these certainly bear out some interesting results. Stanton has 18 hits this season that didn’t clear the fence: 12 singles and six doubles. Of those hits, six were classified as line drives, two as fly balls, and 10 as ground balls.

But most interesting is this; only 1 of the 18 hits was collected by a fielder on the right side; a line drive double on April 28. Of the other 17 hits, four were collected by the center fielder, four by an infielder on the left side, and the remaining nine went to left field. This means that throwing in the home runs, of Stanton’s 31 hits this season, just three have been hit the opposite way.

The Ball-in-Play Ground Outs

In total, Stanton has made 32 ball-in-play outs this season, and 14 of them have been ground balls. Again, we see a pull-heavy approach from the slugger. Half of his ground outs this season have been to the shortstop, and three more to the third baseman. Given that one ground out was to the pitcher, Stanton has grounded out to the right side just three times.

The Ball-in-Play Air Outs

First of all, I should note, Stanton has popped out to an infielder seven times this season. I don’t know how telling this is for the purposes of creating a spray chart, as an infield fly is just a ball that comes off the bat wrong. But it also represents Stanton’s most consistent opposite field approach: four of his seven infield flies when to the 1B or 2B.

This leaves us with 11 fly outs, which actually are a little more proportionate than the rest of his balls in play. Stanton has recorded an out to the left fielder five times, to the center fielder three times, and to the right fielder three times. That includes his lone sacrifice fly on the season, which went to right.

Note on the Danger of Minor League Batted Ball Conclusions

Not once this season has Mike Stanton recorded an out, and it noted in the play by play logs as a line drive. This classification seems to be very after-the-fact, so this should serve as a cautionary tale of drawing conclusions in a minor league prospect’s LD% or FB%. I can say however, with some confidence, that Stanton has a 11.1 IFFB% this season. But I just can’t believe he’s really hitting 1.000/1.000/2.375 on line drives this season. Whether his actual GB% is 38.1%, or his HR/FB% is actually 40.6%, as the play-by-play logs suggest, I leave that up to you.

Conclusions

Of course, sample size warnings apply here quite a bit, especially because Stanton only has 63 balls in play this season. Fans of True Three Outcomes players will be thrilled that one of their own is baseball’s top hitting prospect, as Stanton’s TTO% is 56.8% through 25 games.

If the Marlins do summon Stanton to Miami this season, you can bet that teams will know just how pull-heavy he really is. Of those 63 balls in play, just 13 (20.6%) have been hit the opposite way. If we remove infield flies from that number, we get 9 out of 56 (16.1%). While we don’t yet have the data to know Stanton’s preferences against different pitch types, his pull-happy nature should suggest that teams pitch him outside early and often when he debuts.




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13 Responses to “Stanton’s Got That Super Swing”

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  1. Alex says:

    The Albuquerque Isotopes are no longer affiliated with the Marlins (their last season was 2008). The Marlins AAA team is the New Orleans Zephyrs, and I suspect that it’s much less of a hitter’s paradise.

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      Whoops! Small mistake in the context of the article, but worth changing. You’ll see a change in a matter of minutes. Thanks, Alex.

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  2. Jarrud says:

    If this was 2007 he would go play for the Isotopes in the PCL, but they are now a Dodgers minor league club. He would go to N.O. for AAA. I am not sure if this has any impact on your argument though.

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  3. Jarrud says:

    Damn I am too slow.

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  4. Rui says:

    How do you use that as the title and not reference the youtube video, or Colby Rasmus, at some point in the article?!

    RasmusGirl would not be pleased

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      After linking to it in the Future Talent write-up on the Cardinals, I thought it might be overkill and opted for subtlety.

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  5. Billy says:

    Meh.

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  6. Stanton on the Shoulders of Giants says:

    Major League Baseball has not been Mike Stantonless for more than three straight seasons since 1974. We are in year three of our current drought. Here’s wishing the third Mike Stanton the longevity of the second because it’s going to be a while before another guy named Mike Stanton is good enough to play pro ball.

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    • In fairness, Michael Thomas Stanton didn’t play in the majors for four seasons between his major league debut in 1975 and his second season in 1980 — he was down on the farm honing his craft. But if you want to include the minors, then between Michael Thomas Stanton, William Michael Stanton, and Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton, professional baseball has been blessed by an unending procession of Mike Stantons since 1973.

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  7. PJ says:

    Some critics point out that his contact percentage is in the Russell Branyan, Ryan Howard Carlos Pena territory. Does that worry you at all? That he may just be getting a bit too lucky?

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    • If he has a Ryan Howard/Carlos Pena career, that would be far from a bad thing.

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      • Alex says:

        Then again those are the success stories among prospects with massive power and terrible contact rates. What about a guy like Jonny Gomes? Is an outcome like that (maybe a little better) really out of the question?

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  8. EDUB says:

    Marlins should promote him to AAA and see how he performs first

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