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Giancarlo Stanton

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Mike Stanton

Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton
(Mike)

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[edit] Biographical Information

Giancarlo Stanton began 2010 as one of baseball's top prospects and made his major league debut with the Florida Marlins on June 8th of that season. He has been known as Mike Stanton during his minor league career and first two seasons in the big leagues, but in 2012 instructed his team to have him introduced by his official first name, explaining that "Mike" was a nickname he had started using in elementary school when his friends had trouble pronouncing "Giancarlo", the name his mother gave him and which he has always used on legal documents.

Stanton was offered a scholarship in baseball to the University of Southern California with an opportunity to walk-on to the football team. UNLV wanted him to play football and walk-on to the baseball team., but he declined both. He was taken by the Marlins in the second round of the 2007 amateur draft, one round after Matt Dominguez, a fellow Californian high schooler. Signed by scout Tim McDonnell, he made his pro debut with the GCL Marlins and hit .269/.321/.346 in 8 games and was only 2 for 30 with a double, homer and 15 whiffs for the Jamestown Jammers. Baseball America still named him the best power hitter and best athlete in the Marlins chain.

Giancarlo spent 2008 with the Greensboro Grasshoppers, batting .293/.381/.611 with 26 doubles, 39 home runs (a team record), 89 runs, 97 RBI and 153 strikeouts. He led the South Atlantic League in homers, extra-base hits (68), intentional walks (7), total bases (286) and slugging and was 3rd in runs (4 shy of the lead) and RBI (5 behind leader and league MVP Darin Holcomb). He led Marlins minor leaguers in total bases and was second in homers (3 behind Dallas McPherson) and RBI (one behind McPherson). Baseball America named him Florida's #2 prospect and best power hitter as well as Florida's minor league Player of the Year and the best power prospect in the SAL. He was named to the SAL All-Star outfield alongside Jason Heyward and Caleb Gindl. Baseball America rated him the loop's third-best prospect after Madison Bumgarner and Heyward and right ahead of Jhoulys Chacin and Dominguez. He was 4th in the affiliated minors in slugging (behind Nelson Cruz, Kila Ka'aihue and McPherson, all of the high-scoring Pacific Coast League), tied for second (with Mark Trumbo) in total bases, two behind leader Chris Carter) and tied Carter for second in homers, behind only McPherson.

Still only 19 years old, Stanton remained an elite prospect in 2009 despite a decline in average. He hit .294/.390/.578 in 50 games for the Jupiter Hammerheads and .231/.311/.455 with 16 homers in 79 games for the Jacksonville Suns. He led Marlins minor leaguers in home runs (28), runs (76), RBI (92) and total bases (240) while finishing third with 144 strikeouts. He led both Jupiter and Jacksonville in home runs, an amazing feat. In the 2009 Futures Game, he backed up Heyward in right field for the USA. He struck out against Luis Pérez in the 5th and drew a walk from Juan Carlos Sulbaran in the 7th. Baseball America named him the best power prospect in both the Southern League and Florida State League. They also named him the top prospect in the FSL (just ahead of Jesus Montero) and the #4 prospect in the SL (behind Heyward, Gordon Beckham and Desmond Jennings and just ahead of Jarrod Parker). He was 11 for 23 for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. Baseball America rated him the third-best prospect in minor league baseball following Heyward and Stephen Strasburg.

Stanton has begun 2010 back with Jacksonville on one heck of a tear with 15 home runs in 28 games, 28 walks, 28 runs and 33 RBI with a batting line of .340/.481/.854. After 52 games, he had 21 home runs and 52 RBI when he was called up to the Marlins. He made his debut on June 8th, the same day that Stephen Strasburg was gathering national media attention while making his first start for the Washington Nationals. Stanton got off on the right foot, going 3 for 5 with two runs scored in a 10-8 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. In his rookie season, he hit .259 in 100 games with 22 homers and 59 RBI. He was named to the 2010 Topps All-Star Rookie Team. Back as the Marlins' starting right fielder in 2011, he hit 34 homers in 150 games - good for 5th in the National League - along with 30 doubles and 87 RBI. His batting average was .262 and he also drew 70 walks fo a .356 OBP, confirming his place as one of the top young power hitters in the major leagues.

With the team now known as the Miami Marlins in 2012, and sporting his birth name, he staked an early claim for the hardest ball ever hit at his team's new digs, Marlins Park. On May 21st, he crushed one of ageless Jamie Moyer's pitches to left field, and it took out a portion of the lights on the scoreboard as he cleared the bases with a grand slam. Teammate Heath Bell commented: "I've never seen a ball leave the yard so fast." His blast was largely responsible for a 7-4 win over the Colorado Rockies. It was already his 9th long ball of the year, matching his previous season's pace. He hit .343 and slugged .769 while he matched team records for home runs (12) and RBI (30) in May and earned National League Player of the Month honors as the Marlins had their best month ever, with a record of 21-8. He named a member of the National League squad in the 2012 All-Star Game, his first participation in the midsummer classic, but had to miss the game after undergoing surgery on July 8th to remove pieces of loose cartilage. He returned to the line-up on August 7th without seemingly missing a beat. In his first game back, he drove in a run on a sacrifice fly, and on August 8th went 4 for 5 with a pair of homers in a 13-0 drubbing of the New York Mets. He finished the year hitting .290/.361/.608 in 123 games, leading the league in slugging percentage. In spite of the time missed to injury, he matched his previous season's total with 30 doubles, and set a new personal best with 37 homers, his 86 RBI falling one short of the previous year's number.

However, after their initial season in their new ballpark, the Marlins decided to clean house, trading away all three big name free agents they had signed prior to the 2012 season, as well as a few other veteran players to boot, leaving Stanton and pitcher Ricky Nolasco pretty much the only established veterans on the team. Stanton expressed his displeasure with the situation in no uncertain terms: "Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain and Simple", he tweeted after the Marlins announced a 12-player trade with the Toronto Blue Jays on November 13th. It was clear that a number of teams were interested in acquiring the young slugger as well, however, not being eligible for free agency until 2016 and signed to a very reasonable salary, Stanton was not headed anywhere in the immediate future. Stanton then indicated he had accepted an invitation to play for Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The Marlins got a scare on February 20th when Stanton was beaned by a fastball from teammate Jose Fernandez in an intrasquad game, although Giancarlo escaped without serious injury. Giancarlo's future with the Marlins became cloudier when in the first few days of spring training, owner Jeffrey Loria made some cryptic comments about him during a press conference, stating that he would ideally like to sign him to a long term contract, but did not want to negotiate until after the 2013 season. He then added: "I would love to see him be the centerpiece of this ball club. He'd be the young giant in the ball club, but you can't make promises in this game because strange things happen all the time." Reporters immediately interpreted this as a veiled promise to trade away Stanton as soon as he would begin earning serious money, and perhaps even earlier. Stanton started the season slowly but began to hit at the end of April, hitting his first three homers of the year in a two-game span on April 27-28, part of getting 8 hits in 5 games. However, he then went 0 for 5 in a game against the New York Mets on April 29th, having to leave in the 10th inning when he pulled a hamstring running out a ground ball. He was immediately placed on the disabled list and only returned to the line-up on June 10th. He ended up playing 116 games for the last-place Marlins and was easily their best hitter, slugging 26 doubles and 24 homers, scoring and driving in 62 runs, and batting at a .249 clip with an OBP of .365 and a slugging percentage of .480. In the tough hitting conditions of Marlins Park, that was good for an OPS+ of 131. He was 8th in the 2013 NL in walks (74), 4th in home run ratio (behind Pedro Alvarez, Paul Goldschmidt and Carlos Gonzalez) and first in errors in right field (8, one ahead of Hunter Pence).

Stanton started the 2014 season red hot. On April 18th, he hit a walk-off grand slam in the 9th inning off Yoervis Medina of the Seattle Mariners to give the Marlins an 8-4 win; it was the second such grand slam of his career, following one on June 30th the preceding year. The shot gave him 26 RBIs at that early point of the season. On September 8th, he tied the Marlins' franchise record for home runs by hitting number 154 in a 6-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. In only his fifth season, he had matched Dan Uggla's team record, and was leading the National League in both homers (37) and RBIs (105) at that point. However, his season ended on a brutal note on September 11th, when he was hit in the face by a fastball thrown by the Brewers' Mike Fiers in the 5th inning. The pitch fractured a number of facial bones and broke some teeth, and he lay on the ground at home plate for several minutes, bleeding profusely, before being evacuated on a stretcher. To add insult to literal injury, umpire D.J. Reyburn called the pitch a strike, forcing the Marlins to bring in pinch-hitter Reed Johnson to complete the at-bat. Johnson struck out on a pitch that also hit him, prompting a bench-clearing brawl and the ejection of both manager Mike Redmond and 3B Casey McGehee. As a final ignominy, Johnson's strikeout was charged to Giancarlo, since the count was 0 and 2 when he was forced to leave the game. Stanton needed to have five of his teeth replaced or fixed and blood drained from his sinus cavity. He explained that he had briefly passed out after being hit, and that when he came to, he could only hear a loud ringing in his ears and feel the blood in his mouth, with chunks of teeth floating about. In spite of missing the last two weeks, he did end up winning the NL home run crown, but not in RBIs as Adrian Gonzalez had 116. he also finished second behind P Clayton Kershaw in the voting for the MVP Award, making him the top position player in the National League that year.

On November 17th, Stanton signed a 13-year contract with the Marlins, worth $325 million, or $25 million per season. It was the largest contract in major league history, topping the $282 million the Detroit Tigers had given Miguel Cabrera the previous March, However, at only 25, Stanton had a chance to still be a productive player at the end of the deal, in contrast to others who had signed mega-contracts in recent years, such as Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. While the contract was guaranteed and included a no-trade clause, it was also heavily back-loaded, giving the Marlins flexibility to add some players to build a contender around Stanton. There was also an opt out clause after the 2020 season, giving Stanton an opportunity to test the market again if the contract was no longer in line with prevailing salary trends at that time.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2010 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 2-time NL All-Star (2012 & 2014)
  • NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2014)
  • 2-time NL Slugging Percentage Leader (2012 & 2014)
  • NL Total Bases Leader (2014)
  • NL Home Runs Leader (2014)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2010-2014)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (2011, 2012 & 2014)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (2014)

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