This is Giancarlo Stanton on Two Good Legs

It’s kind of hard to imagine a man who is 6’6 and weighs 240 lbs. It’s easy to imagine the numbers, but it’s hard to fathom a person that size standing behind you in line at the bank or teaching social studies to third graders. We see numbers like this bandied about in sports, and when big men are playing on a field with other big men, the baseline is shifted. They don’t seem that much bigger than everyone else.

A few years ago, I was in the Twins clubhouse and got to talk a little with Justin Morneau. Justin Morneau is listed at 6’4″ and 220 lbs. My first out-loud question was something about how his training regimen changed since his concussion problems. My first internal question regarded how quickly he could leave me in a bloody pulp should my questions anger him. Morneau has 4 inches and 30 pounds (40 if you don’t include my spare tire) on me. Yet the difference, when standing face-to-face with him, was staggering. Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Morneau are large men, is the point.

Because Stanton is a large man, he gets to do things like this.

stantonbomb

That’s the farthest home run hit so far this year. It’s a little hard to see in GIF form, but it landed in that bar with the Budweiser sign. At 484 ft. of true distance, it’s going to be hard to top. Freakish distance aside, this is pretty much what we expect a man of Stanton’s size to do. Stand, swing, trot, repeat. And for all intents and purposes, this is what he does and he’d very good at it. When he’s healthy, that is.

Over the past two seasons, Stanton has been sidelined (dugouted?) with various leg injuries. He missed 35 days due to knee surgery in 2012. He missed 41 days with a hamstring injury in 2013. He’s also missed a few days with an ankle sprain. In those past two years, he’s had nagging shoulder and abdomen issues as well.

Unlike a Jacoby Ellsbury, say, these are use injuries. The shoulder problem was caused by a diving catch, but the leg injuries are those that don’t happen from weird accidents or bad luck. Giancarlo Stanton contains a lot of muscle, and he uses those muscles hard doing baseball things. This can result in hamstring pulls and loose bodies being found in the knees. He’s 25, so I’m certainly not ready to call him an injury risk. But the 150 games he logged in 2011 is his highest to date.

But so far in 2014, he hasn’t missed a game. That’s sure to change — everybody needs a day off here and there — but it’s a good sign that 2012 and 2013 may be behind him and we can now see what an experienced Stanton does with a healthy body.

Season G PA HR BB% K% ISO wRC+ WAR
2011 150 601 34 11.60% 27.60% 0.275 141 3.2
2012 123 501 37 9.20% 28.50% 0.318 156 5.6
2013 116 504 24 14.70% 27.80% 0.231 135 2.3
2014 58 249 16 14.10% 23.70% 0.294 172 3.5

This is a quick overview of the last 3+ years. Stanton’s best year was 2012. He missed 25 games with knee problems and was still worth 5.6 WAR. His power was prestigious, but with that came a lot of strikeouts and few walks. Those numbers have been trending in the right direction now. He still strikes out a lot and probably always will, but better on-base skills matched with almost the same power numbers as two years ago is a good recipe for success. His .360 BABIP should regress, but both Steamer and ZiPS peg 2014 as Stanton’s best season yet in terms of WAR. Stanton’s shoulder and legs (which aid him in his power-hitting) appear to be doing better.

There are other factors we can look at, as well. His defensive numbers appear to be rebounding, which could indicate that he’s able to chase down balls a little easier. His Inside Edge numbers, which breaks down plays made based on likelihood, are also bearing that out.

Season Impossible (0%) Remote (1-10%) Unlikely (10-40%) Even (40-60%) Likely (60-90%) Routine (90-100%)
2012 0.0% (82) 0.0% (6) 33.3% (6) 45.5% (11) 64.7% (17) 98.8% (242)
2013 0.0% (85) 0.0% (6) 0.0% (4) 37.5% (8) 87.5% (8) 99.6% (224)
2014 0.0% (29) 0.0% (8) 28.6% (7) 83.3% (6) 91.7% (12) 99.1% (110)

Better wheels means a better base when swinging the bat. It also means better chances at getting to balls in the outfield. But does the third part of the game — base running — show the same positive trend?

Stanton was never a particularly great base runner. Announcers will say he runs well, but they really mean that he runs well compared to people his size. The fact that he doesn’t run like Adam Dunn surprises a lot of folks. It’s impossible to say if Stanton feels better on the base paths. We do have some anecdotal evidence, however.

stanton2013grounder

This is Stanton beating out a grounder to third in 2013. This is on April 20th, ten days before hitting the DL with his hamstring injury. I pulled out the old stopwatch and clocked him at around 4.37* seconds from contact to first base. Was this before his hamstring was bothering him, or was he trying to play through the discomfort? I only have DL information so it’s hard to say.

stanton2014grounder

This is Stanton beating out a grounder to third in 2014. The camera work is rough, but I came to about 4.24* seconds.

(* GIFs can do weird things with frame rates sometimes, but I timed these off the actual video, FYI)

It isn’t a huge difference, but it’s a difference. If Stanton had posted five-second times to first in 2013, he wouldn’t have been playing to begin with. But he could have been hampered by a balky leg, a leg that is now feeling better. For what it’s worth, he is also on pace for the most stolen-base attempts of his career. He has four, and has yet to be thrown out. Stealing isn’t a big part of his game, but the fact that he’s at least trying is a good sign.

According to WAR, Stanton is the most valuable outfielder in the game right now — ahead of Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig. He’s not a five-tool player per se, but he relies on his athleticism more than a pure slugger would. Every injury can harm performance, but arms and legs are a pretty big deal in baseball. Now that his are healthy, we may be poised to see the best Giancarlo Stanton yet. It probably won’t, but that could mean more of these …

stantonbomb

… which would be pretty cool.




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David G. Temple is the Managing Editor of TechGraphs and a contributor to FanGraphs, NotGraphs and The Hardball Times. He hosts the award-eligible podcast Stealing Home. Dayn Perry once called him a "Bible Made of Lasers." Follow him on Twitter @davidgtemple.


17 Responses to “This is Giancarlo Stanton on Two Good Legs”

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  1. Steve says:

    How much should a player conserve himself in order to get more value out of his production? Would a coach ever advise a certain player NOT to run hard to first, etc? If Stanton goes down with a bad hammy, so does the Marlins offense.

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  2. Steve says:

    “His power was prestigious”

    I think you were looking for prodigious.

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  3. Hurtlocker says:

    He has leg injuries because his legs are so far from his brain. Out of sight, out of mind.

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  4. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    A 4.24 is 55 speed. That’s pretty absurd for a man Stanton’s size.

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    • A Eskpert says:

      Trout and Puig are heavier and faster. I think Adam Dunn back in the day was pretty good himself.

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      • Governator says:

        Trout is listed at 230. Puig is listed at 245. However, Trout is 6-2, Puig is 6-3, and Stanton is 6-6 (not to mention that I don’t buy that he would actually weigh 5 pounds less than Puig – they have similar muscle development and there are three more inches or Stanton. Stanton looks roughly tight end size, so I would peg him closer to 260 than 240).

        At any rate, their being much shorter gives them a big functional advantage, speed-wise. It’s hard to be quick out of the box when you’re 6-6, and it’s a little easier to be quick out of the box if you’re 6-2 or 6-3.

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        • a eskpert says:

          Listed weights mean almost nothing. Trout is about 250 now, as is Puig.

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        • Blootzkloof says:

          I could believe that Puig would be heavier than Stanton, Stanton looks like a missile, while Puig looks like a box
          (in a good way). Also if it counts for anything, Puig has biceps like watermelons, while Stanton has triceps of a Greek God. Triceps are around twice as much in weight as biceps, sooooo…

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        • CircleChange11 says:

          Trout is 250? My ass.

          Matt Holliday is closer to 250.

          Mike Trout is nowhere near as big, heavy as Matt Holliday.

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  5. EDogg1438 says:

    Stanton looks a hair bit leaner than Puig, who was measured preseason at 251 lb. I don’t have trouble believing 245 is Puig’s true weight when he’s in shape. I could see Stanton being equal weight to Puig due to height differences but I don’t think he’s 15 – 20 lbs heavier than Puig. Puig has extremely thick legs that carry a lot of weight.

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  6. The Party Bird says:

    An understated bit: the home run graphic shows up before the ball has even landed. That’s a true sign of a no-doubter.

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  7. Dillon says:

    The ball actually hit the pillar behind the budweiser bar. We were all robbed of a 500+ homerun and a ball hit out of Marlins Park because of that pillar.

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  8. Cybo says:

    As someone who is 6’6″ 252 I can attest to the fact that tall people’s weight can fluctuate wildly. For example I’ve lost as much as 8 pounds in a week before simply because it was exceptionally hot outside all week long. It happens. My point is +/- 10 pounds on a 6’6″ man, you won’t be able to notice it without a scale.

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  9. Johnny says:

    Stanton was already on track to get a Robinson Cano type contract. Now it looks like he should get 10 years, 300+ million. Easily if he stays healthy.

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