Mike Stanton’s Encore

Buster Posey and Jason Heyward garnered most of the attention among the NL rookie crop last season and rightfully so, but Mike Stanton of the Marlins was damn impressive in his own right. His 396 plate appearance debut featured a studly .248 ISO (15th highest among the 238 batters with at least 350 PA) and 22 homers, numbers that are pretty historic. The only other players with an ISO that high in that many plate appearances in their age 20 season: Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Bob Horner, and Frank Robinson. What does that mean for Stanton in 2011, specifically fantasy-wise?

There’s no better place to start than with the projections, so here they are…

Bill James: 591 PA, .268 AVG, 85 R, 38 HR, 104 RBI, 5 SB

Fans: 649 PA, .263 AVG, 90 R, 36 HR, 106 RBI, 7 SB

ZiPS: 666 PA, .246 AVG, 79 R, 36 HR, 98 RBI, 5 SB

Those are some pretty hefty projections, especially when you consider that just nine players in history have received 500+ PA and hit 30+ homers at age 21 (Horner is the only one from the list above to pull off the trick). Here’s another thing: zero players have done it while striking out in at least 30% of their at-bats, something Stanton did with the Fish last year (34.3%) and in Double-A (31.0%) in parts of the last two seasons (he skipped over Triple-A). In fact, just three players (Adam Dunn, Bobby Bonds, and Pete Incaviglia) have hit 30+ homers with 30%+ strikeouts before their age 25 season. If Stanton meets the projections next summer, he’ll be in some rarefied air.

Strike three has always been Stanton’s bane, and that’s okay. The whiffs won’t directly impact your fantasy team (unless you have some unconventional scoring or have the pitcher facing him on your roster), and his power is best defined as stupid good. The spacious ballpark in Florida isn’t much of a deterrent for him, and Stanton will run into enough mistake pitches to go deep what feels like a minimum of 25 times next season if he stays healthy. The AVG probably won’t be there, at least not right away, so .260 seems to be the upper bound of reasonable expectations. The Marlins still have a fine lineup even without Dan Uggla, so the RBI and run scoring opportunities will be there for Stanton.

It’s very difficult to get an idea of what Stanton will do next year because he’s so unique. That young with that much power and those kinds of strikeouts issues … it’s just not something you see every day. I’ve seen him referred to a right-handed Dunn, but Dunn was in A-ball at Stanton’s age. Would it be completely surprising if he hit 40 homers in 2011? Nah, though I don’t think anyone is counting on it. Would it be a total surprise if he hit below the Mendoza line and wound up back in Triple-A with a 40%+ strikeout rate? No, not really. The range of possibilities is seemingly infinite.

Most mock drafts I’ve seen have Stanton going in the 7th or 8th round, but I’m very intrigued. I’d much rather roll the dice on his ridiculous upside than hope Delmon Young or Corey Hart can keep it up, or see if Jacoby Ellsbury is healthy and effective.

Click here to submit your fan projection for Stanton.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

30 Responses to “Mike Stanton’s Encore”

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  1. Bryan says:

    Stanton’s K% by month last year is relevant to this discussion:

    June: PA=81 K%=41.9
    July: PA=96 K%=34.9
    August: PA=100 K%=31.1
    Sept/Oct: PA=119 K%=31.2

    The decline in K% with increasing experience is a good sign and if it continues to drop we might be in for a huge age 21 season. Even if his K rate remains around 31-32% these splits at least provide some hope that a full season K% approaching 40 is unlikely.

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  2. MTUCache says:

    I’m definitely intrigued, but his ADP is still feeling too high for my tastes. Power is getting scarce in #3 OF spots, so anybody capable of 40HR is going to catch your eye, but that’s assuming you’re desperately needing HR (which you’re not going to know at that point of the draft).

    Plenty of other “all-around” #2/#3 OF guys around that spot who aren’t going to win you any categories, but also aren’t going to completely destroy your average. (Granderson, Stubbs, Bruce, D.Young, Wells). Sure, none of them are considered “safe” by any means, but they’ve at least got more of a track record than Stanton.

    If I’m reaching for power here in my draft, I feel like I’m in big trouble. There’s abundant speed at this point in the draft or later (Pierre, Stubbs, Bourn, Gardner, even Pagan or R.Davis).

    The reason I’m most intrigued? If I do draft him in the 8th-9th round, and he does put up decent first-half numbers, he could bring a pretty sweet return on the trade market for anybody who’s sluggers have gotten off to a slow start or ended up injured.

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    • phoenix2042 says:

      granderson batted below .250 last year. it got a lot better after kevin long retooled his swing, but we can’t assume he is going to be a completely different player, even if it did seem that swisher was a completely different player after long’s improvements. i hope swisher can keep up what he did last year and that long’s improvements stick for both him and granderson, both because i’m a yankees fan, and because they would make some nice 3rd outfielders!

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    • HeyAve says:

      How can you possibly say guys like Granderson, Stubbs and Bruce can’t destroy your average?

      I have Stanton in a 3 year keeper so I am bias slightly and always man crush on young power bats with names matching ex relievers but Stanton with the potential of 40 hr and a possible .250 avg is just fine compared to Bruce with a .260 and 25 homers or Granderson with.240 20 homers and his super helpful 10-15 steals.

      Power like his don’t come cheap.
      prediction….Stanton’s AVG is higher than Granderson, Stubbs(who i love after the 8th round) and Bruce. It will hover near Vernon’s and his overall stat line will hold more value than Delmon Young.

      This is gospel.
      breath it in.

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      • MTUCache says:

        “How can you possibly say guys like Granderson, Stubbs and Bruce can’t destroy your average?”

        Honestly? I can’t say that with any certainty…

        What I would say is that I’m confident that none of them will hit lower than .260. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say that about Stanton. His variance (with that K-rate and his history in the majors) is much higher. He could hit lower than .240 or higher than .275 this season and neither one would surprise me.

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      • stocktopus says:

        Granderson and Stubbs are potential AVG killers, but bruce hit above .280 last year. Bill James has him pegged at .280, 31 HR. Fans have him at .279, 30 HR. In my opinion, he’s the outlier of this group. Maybe he doesn’t have the 40 HR power upside of Stanton, and he doesn’t have the power/speed combo of granderson and stubbs. However, he’s the only safe bet of all three of them for an AVG/Power combo. He’s my pick at that spot in the draft, for sure, if you gave me those choices.

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    • HeyAve says:

      Ya I hear ya on the k-rate it’s scary as hell.
      I guess the main guy I disagree on in regards to the AVGis Stubbs.

      Love the dude and as CRAZY as Dusty is there was a reason Stubbs got moved to 8th in the order a few times…dude k’s like a monster.
      So if it comes down to Stubbs vs. Stanton interms of AVG or overall production….I would call it a wash.

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      • colin says:

        “What I would say is that I’m confident that none of them will hit lower than .260.”

        Really? Curtis Granderson has hit below .250 each of the last two seasons. His strikeout rate has steadily increased during that time, and his walk rate and OBP have steadily decreased. I’m curious what makes you so confident he’s going to bat .260 or better in his age-30 season?

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  3. phoenix2042 says:

    he might be a nice sleeper considering the hype that heyward and posey get. he kind of gets forgotten. it would be nice to get a few more steals out of him because he doesn’t seem that slow. he needs more patience though. still that power combined with the runs and rbis of a middle of the lineup bat will be nice.

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    • jimbo says:

      In my league, the guy who picked him up last year is going to participate in the league again this year. Stanton won’t be a sleeper for that reason alone.

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  4. Donald Trump says:

    If you draft Stanton, and he is having a monster half, there is no way you would trade him for ” sluggers have gotten off to a slow start or ended up injured.”

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    • Brad says:

      MTUCache was not saying that he would necessarily trade directly for those slow-to-start sluggers, but that those sluggers might cause their owners to panic and overpay in a trade for Stanton etc.

      At least that is how I read it.

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      • MTUCache says:

        Exactly… with a player like Stanton, I’m drafting for huge upside, but not depending on any. If he blows up for half the season I cash in on half that upside, and if I need a boost anywhere else (say, a #2 starter), I move him to bump up that category as well.

        That’s why I have such a hard time grabbing him in the first-10 rounds… because with that level of investment you almost HAVE to depend on him.

        As a long-time roto player, I despise variance from my “everyday” players. I’ll grab it all day at the back end the draft, I’ll completely fill my bench with it, but if I’m drafting somebody as my #2OF I feel like I’d rather have an 80% chance at a 25/90/90/10/.280 season than a 20% chance at a 35/90/110/.260 season. That risk can be mitigated by finding similar rewards later in the draft and then making moves during the season.

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      • MTUCache says:

        All that being said… I am the guy who’s traded away Josh Hamilton three (yes, three) years in a row after somehow convincing myself that there’s NO way he could sustain it through the season. I’ve finished in the top two places in two of those years, so it’s not like it was a critical mistake, but it’s pretty hard to live down trading Hamilton for Gardner last year, despite needing speed and Hamilton sitting out the last month…

        Anyway… as you can see, I’m more than willing to cash in on an “upside” player while he’s hot, rather than letting interest cool even a little bit.

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  5. Dudley says:

    i’d draft stanton anytime after the 10th, but in the 7th or 8th, i’d far rather have a reliable guy like jay bruce or hunter pence. i’m thinking .255, 75 32 90 seems like a reasonable forecast, but, like the article suggests, the variance is through the roof!

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    • HeyAve says:

      I don’t understand some of the “reliable” comparisons some dudes make here.
      Jay Bruce is reliable?
      for what?
      We are still waiting or Bruce to have a year like Stantons rookie.
      This coming from a big Bruce supporter….someone else mentioned Delmon Young?
      One breakout year…does not equal consistency from an underachiever till last season.

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      • MTUCache says:

        The exact quote from my post above…
        “Sure, none of them are considered “safe” by any means, but they’ve at least got more of a track record than Stanton.”

        Frankly, with as shallow as OF is this season I’d like to have my first three OF wrapped up by round 7 at the LATEST, meaning I won’t have to be playing russian roullete with any of these guys.

        I’ll be perfectly happy to have any of these guys as my #4 (maybe #3 if I’m strong in my MI), but arguing over how “safe” any OF is after #50-overall is an exercise in futility this season.

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      • philosofool says:

        Stanton culd spend two months in the minors if he struggles in April. That’s a shit ton of unreliability at none of those other guys have.

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      • nyanks says:

        Jay Bruce destroyed minor league pitching from ’06-’08, already went through his sophomore slump, and had a good bounce back year in ’10. Specifically, he had a torrid 2nd half and hit southpaws well for the entire season. There are a lot of guys reaching the majors at 23-24 and Bruce is already established, on the upswing, and a good bet to have a breakout in ’11.

        Mike Stanton had a great season, especially for a 20 year old, but he still needs to go through his adjustment period and that will make or break him for ’11.

        I think Bruce is a “more reliable” option in ’11, for sure.

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  6. buck turgidson says:

    I have a question. Why do you continue to play this 5×5 game with the allegiance to counting statistics with minimal relationship to value? I mean why not a play a game that assigns some value to walks? DIPS? I don’t mean to be snotty, I honestly want to know.

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    • jimbo says:

      1. Fantasy as a marketable product needed ‘something’ to be the standard, and that was 5×5 when internet blowed up. Hard to change.
      2. People are lazy. Why do we continue to vote, in vast majority, for one of two political parties when both suck???
      3. Most consumers of Fangraphs would join Chess Club. Some people would prefer Checkers Club–focus being on the social aspect of a club.

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      • buck turgidson says:

        Well I was asking Mike. But that was a terrible answer.

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      • bSpittle says:

        Agree with your lazy comment.

        We have a bunch of lazy people who equate the two parties – when they are nothing alike. I am sad for you that you feel you aren’t being represented.

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  7. jimbo says:

    I drafted Heyward in the 8th last year. Felt too early, but I was aware of the risk. Difference with Stanton is that he already has the at bats from last year which are hard to NOT project into big numbers. While it might feel nice to be the one who calls his name, basking in the sighs of disappointment wafting about the room, Chris Davis.

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  8. Powder Blues says:

    Thankfully I don’t have to chose between Stanton and Heyward – I have both in my lineup! In my 20 team league no less. Braun “rounds out” my OF.

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  9. Brian says:

    A healthy Stanton out preforms Heyward. No?

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    • ToddM says:

      In standard 5×5? Perhaps. Stanton will likely edge Heyward in homers, perhaps by as many as 10 (high 20′s to high 30′s?). RBI will be close, perhaps again Stanton slightly, although Heyward is in a better looking lineup overall, or at least a less risky one (a lot of youth in Florida). Runs will be Heyward, likely by quite a bit. Average will also likely Heyward significantly. Steals, again probably Heyward, although probably only by 5 to 10.

      Honestly, I’d prefer Heyward. Less risky, and probably just as good, unless you know you’re short in homers. If your league includes OBP, it’s not even close.

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  10. Victor says:

    For 2011 in a 5×5: Bruce > Heyward > Stanton

    The difference between these 3 is tiny, and seasonal variance can easily jumble this order.

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  11. I would agree with victor’s ranking in a standard 5×5 league

    However, in more diverse leagues each provides unique value. I play in a league where walks and obp are extremely valuable, in that one I would say I would feel most comfortable with Heyward and his discipline in upside. I think they are fairly close, so a lot of it has to do with the particular categories of a league.

    …. All that said, I wrote Stanton up a few days ago and would POUNCE if he slipped into the double-digit rounds


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  12. nyanks says:

    Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez then told a story about how Stanton decided earlier this year that he needed to do a better job of recognizing the sliders in the dirt he was waving at.

    “So he came up with a drill,” the manager said. “He set up the pitching machine to throw sliders at 90 miles an hour, and he set it up to throw all balls. But every eight or 10 pitches, the machine (screws up and) throws a strike, and that’s the one he wants to recognize.

    “So basically, this guy would spend 10-15 minutes in the cage, taking 60-70-80 pitches — so he could swing at four. And it was all his idea. Everyone was like, ‘What’s he doing?’ But he came up with that. I never saw that before.”

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