Is Giancarlo Stanton Worth $300 Million?
It's been a rough few months for Giancarlo Stanton. First, back in September, he got plunked in the face, resulting in this unfortunate picture. Don't click that link if blood makes you queasy. Then, last night, he loses the MVP race to Clayton Kershaw. Life is tough.
I think he'll get over it soon enough.
Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that Stanton and the Miami Marlins are discussing a 10-year, $300 million deal. That would be the richest contract in professional sports history. He could put Ace Hood to shame by waking up in 200.67 new Bugatti's with that dough. Yup, he'll be just fine.
Stanton just turned 25 last week, but he also dealt with injuries throughout his last couple of seasons. Is he worth $300 million? Let's find out.
Stanton's 2014 Season
We should qualify this discussion by saying that Stanton was other-freaking-worldly in 2014. Had he not missed the end of the year with a broken face, he may have given Kershaw more of a run for MVP.
In 638 plate appearances, Stanton hit 37 jacks and had a slash of .288/.395/.555 with a .403 wOBA. He beat American League MVP Mike Trout in each of those categories except for slugging percentage. El Dios del Sol ha llegado!
He coupled this success mashing taters with a stupidly high walk percentage. His 14.7 mark was third in the league. That should make his .395 on-base percentage more sustainable for years beyond 2014.
The greatest thing about this year for Stanton is that the rest of the numbers are sustainable, too. Back in 2012, Stanton's first season with an fWAR above 5.0, he swung at 37.1 percent of pitches outside of the zone. This year, that number was down to 31.1. His overall swing percentage decreased to 44.1 from 49.1. He has shown legitimate progression and improvement even after breaking into the league with tremendous amounts of success.
The Reason for Possible Concern
Prior to this season, Stanton had only had one season in which he had recorded more than 505 plate appearances. In 2012 and 2013, he had 501 and 504 respectively.
Speaking of that 2013 season, Stanton took a super step backwards that year. He hit .249/.365/.480 with a .368 wOBA. He saw his home run total drop to 24 from 37 despite having three additional plate appearances. This was a year after he showed himself as one of the up-and-coming superstars.
There's also the defensive side of things. In 2012, Stanton had 3.7 defensive runs saved. That dropped to -13.1 in 2013. His UZR dropped to -7.8 from 9.1. The 2013 season involved endless injuries, but it also involved some potential reasons for hesitation before offering the richest contract in professional sports history.
The Reason That Concern is Stupid and The Marlins Should Pay This Man
You know those last three paragraphs? Yeah, they were dumb. Dumber than dumb. I spent four years having professors cram into me the value of providing the contrarian view. This is the result. I hope you are all happy.
That 2013 season was riddled with injuries. Stanton eradicated any ill from that demon-fused season by exercising every pitch he saw in 2014.
Fangraphs has this sweet thing where they will assign a value to a player based on what they would make in free agency. This can come in handy at times like these.
In his 2014 season, Stanton had an fWAR of 6.1. That translates to a Fangraphs salary of $33,400,000. That just-so-happens to be more than $3,000,000 higher than the average annual salary of this potential deal. How convenient.
This situation is eerily similar to Miguel Cabrera's with the Marlins back when they still encompassed the entire state of Florida.
In Cabrera's age-24 season, he hit .320/.401/.565 with a .403 wOBA. Do those numbers look familiar? And Stanton actually had a WAR of 6.1 compared to Cabrera's 5.1 mark.
The Marlins proceeded to trade Cabrera before the start of the next season. He has hit 252 home runs with a .325/.402/.576 slash over the next seven seasons, winning two MVP awards, so it's probably safe to say the Marlins made a solid decision. They didn't need that.
Now, the Marlins have a dope stadium, and they are about to lock up the cornerstone of their franchise for the next ten years. If Stanton just replicates his production from 2014 - much less adds to it - he'll fulfill this deal.
Here's the actual contrarian take. When the Tigers signed Cabrera to his 10-year, $292 million contract last year, Jonah Keri called it an "unconscionable, indefensible, all-but-guaranteed mistake." Because Keri is a magician/genius, Cabrera validated those concerns in year one.
The main reason behind Keri's gripe was that the Tigers still had Cabrera under control for two more seasons when they signed the extension. That means they had two more years to evaluate where Cabrera would be prior to needing to extend him. He compared it to the Ryan Howard extension with the Phillies in 2010, which has also turned into a flaming poo-hole. Stanton, like those two, would not hit free agency for two more years.
There is a key difference here, though. Cabrera was about to enter his age-31 season. Stanton will be entering his age-25 season. That's six prime baseball-crushing years there, homie. As Keri said in the article, "If the Angels give Mike Trout a zillion years and dollars while he's still in his early twenties no one will complain." This potential contract may fall short of those figures, but Stanton is only two years older than Trout and fairly comparable across the board outside of base-running and defense.
And Stanton's defense did regress a bit in 2014. After his -7.8 UZR in 2013, he propped that back up to 1.6 in 2014. He'll never be an elite defender, but he's not a liability, and Cabrera was in his time at third base.
So, I say go for it, Miami. Lock up this luscious destroyer of worlds for the next decade. Build around him, Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna and see what happens. It has the potential to be so very pretty.
Things are different now for the Marlins than they were in 2007. They are trying to build around their 25-year-old star rather than send him packing. And if they do end up completing this deal, they will be making the right choice. Stanton isn't the type of guy you let walk away.