What's Up With Giancarlo Stanton?
It's not a big secret that the 2016 season hasn't gone well for Giancarlo Stanton. The newly-signed slugger has a meager .197 batting average and a nERD rating of -0.06 this season. And his season-long struggles culminated last night when Stanton hit this shot against the Minnesota Twins.
How amazing is @Giancarlo818? He hit the hardest ball in @statcast history … on a grounder: https://t.co/FlThqhdOXW pic.twitter.com/wH52xL1YAS
— Cut4 (@Cut4) June 10, 2016
Per MLB’s Stat Cast, that swing was the hardest recorded exit speed on a ball in the two years since Statcast has been implemented. The rocket had an exit velocity of 123.9 mph, 3.8 mph faster than the second-highest speed this year, coincidentally also from the bat of Stanton.
Unfortunately for the Miami Marlins slugger, that play still resulted in a double play and was the perfect example of his terrible luck this year.
Reason for Optimism
After that shot last night, Stanton now has five hardest hit balls this season and six of the top eight. Despite his propensity to destroy the baseball, he's still under then Mendoza Line for average, due in large part to a ton of bad luck.
Per FanGraphs, Stanton has a career batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .323, but this year he's seen that drop to an appalling .247. Despite his awful luck, Stanton has kept his wRC+ to 95, which is near the league average, and he's even improved on his career walk percentage to 13.3%.
Cause for Concern
Although there are signs that this is merely a prolonged slump brought on by bad luck, there are a few alarming numbers that should scare members of the Marlins' front office. The chief concern among those is a 35% strikeout rate, which is up over 6% from his career strikeout rate of 28.8%.
Much of Stanton’s issues have come on the inside of the plate. The contact charts below, courtesy of FanGraphs, show a dramatic drop in contact on the inside of the plate from 2015 to 2016.
Will He Figure It Out?
The increased walk rate along with an elevated strikeout rate tend to show that teams have figured out how to pitch to Stanton and will perhaps take their chances facing less powerful hitters in the Miami lineup. However, the question remains if Stanton will learn from Barry Bonds, his hitting coach, and simply take what the opponent is giving him, or if he'll continue to swing at pitches he cannot handle.
For a player that led all of baseball with an average exit of velocity of 98.5 mph last year -- along with elite ISO, wRC+ and wOBA career numbers -- it's hard to imagine Stanton not having a huge summer. It seems only a matter of time until we get more of this type of swing.
.@Giancarlo818 launches #Statcast’s farthest projected homer of 2016: 475 feet. https://t.co/GW2wxx6rnE pic.twitter.com/KEeqFlqHeI
— #Statcast (@statcast) May 7, 2016