Giancarlo Stanton Tries to Change Issues Up After a Dreadful 2023

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports activities

Following a career-worst season and a few stinging public criticism from Yankees common supervisor Brian Cashman, Giancarlo Stanton is making some adjustments. Earlier this week, the oft-injured 34-year-old slugger reported to spring coaching trying considerably leaner than prior to now, and on Wednesday supplied the general public with the primary glimpse of his reworked swing. Certain, this all matches into the realm of spring coaching clichés, and batting observe cuts received’t inform us whether or not the adjustments can reverse his decline or enhance his possibilities of staying wholesome, however a rebound would definitely be welcome because the Yankees try and recuperate from their worst file in 31 years.

Amid a season wherein so many key Yankees wound up sidelined by accidents for vital spells, Stanton performed in simply 101 video games, his lowest full-season complete since 2019, when he was restricted to 19 video games by left biceps and proper knee accidents. This time round, he missed 46 days resulting from a left hamstring pressure, the most recent in a litany of decrease physique accidents he’s incurred for the reason that begin of 2019:

Giancarlo Stanton’s Accidents as a Yankee

Begin Finish Days on IL Damage
4/1/19 6/18/19 78 Left biceps pressure
6/26/19 9/18/19 84 Proper knee sprain (PCL)
10/13/19 10/18/19 5* Proper quadriceps pressure
8/9/20 9/15/20 37 Left hamstring pressure
5/14/21 5/28/21 14 Left quad pressure
5/25/22 6/4/22 10 Proper ankle irritation
7/24/22 8/25/22 32 Left Achilles tendonitis
4/16/23 6/1/23 46 Left hamstring pressure

SOURCE: Baseball Prospectus

* = no injured record; missed time throughout American League Championship Sequence.

That’s 301 days on the injured record, not together with his lacking three video games within the 2019 ALCS in opposition to the Astros. In the meantime, Stanton has performed 391 common season video games, which prorates to a median of 89 over a 162-game season.

It was with that irritating sequence of absences in thoughts that Cashman vented throughout a media session on the GM conferences in Arizona final November, “I’m not going to inform you he’s gonna play each sport subsequent yr as a result of he’s not. He’s gonna wind up getting damage once more, extra seemingly than not, as a result of it appears to be a part of his sport.” To be truthful, Cashman instantly added, “However I do know that when he’s proper and wholesome – aside from this previous yr – the man’s an excellent hitter and has been for a very long time.”

Stanton kept away from public remark on the time, letting agent Joel Wolfe commerce volleys with the GM, who went into harm management mode. “I worth Giancarlo Stanton as a participant,” he instructed reporters. “Indisputably, he’s one of many massive drivers after we do win. He’s one of many few gamers you convey to New York that hasn’t backed down, that has dealt with himself in knowledgeable method by means of thick and skinny.” The GM moreover spoke with each participant and agent to clear the air, and since then, each Cashman and Stanton have stored the substance of their dialogue personal. “He is aware of my response to that,” stated the latter on the Yankees’ spring coaching advanced on Monday.

Till 2023, Stanton’s absences had been mitigated a minimum of considerably by his productiveness. He hit .248/.338/.493 for a 130 wRC+ from 2019–22, together with .273/.354/.516 (138 wRC+) in his 139-game ’21 marketing campaign, his healthiest certainly one of that stretch. He made the AL All-Star staff in 2022, however his ugly closing line (.211/.297/.462, 116 wRC+) hid a drastic cut up: He hit .285/.339/.523 (142 wRC+) by means of Might 24, his final day earlier than touchdown on the IL resulting from proper ankle irritation, however simply .166/.272/.425 thereafter, and to get to an excellent 100 wRC+ for that stretch required hitting dwelling runs in his closing three video games. That sorry batting line appears to be like loads like final yr’s one (.191/.275/.420), although with rising scoring ranges, the latter was good for simply an 89 wRC+ and -0.8 WAR. Since that ankle-related IL stint, he owns a 93 wRC+ and -0.6 WAR in 699 PA. It ain’t nice.

As ever, Stanton struck out loads, however that wasn’t his main downside. By way of general strikeout fee, his 29.9% was down 0.4 factors from 2022, and useless even with ’18. His 34.1% whiff fee was proper at his Statcast-era common, down 2.4 factors from 2022, and down 0.3 factors from ’18. His 13.7% swinging strike fee and his 29.4% chase fee had been each equally under 2018, ’22, and his profession marks.

Likewise, Stanton continued to place a cost within the ball when he related, if not fairly as laborious as lately (I’ve omitted 2019 and ’20 resulting from their small samples):

Giancarlo Stanton Statcast Profile

Season EV Percentile Barrel% Percentile Laborious-Hit% Percentile
2018 93.7 99 8.9% 97 50.8% 97
2021 95.1 99 9.7% 91 56.3% 100
2022 95.0 99 11.3% 98 52.3% 98
2023 93.3 96 9.4% 94 48.4% 86

Not all contact is created equal, in fact. Stanton pulled the ball 41.1% of the time in 2023, up from 36.5% in ’22 and his highest full-season fee since ’17, when he was nonetheless a Marlin. Normally, pulled fly balls are usually the most efficient, whereas reverse subject groundballs are usually extra productive than pulled ones even after the banning of infield shifts. What we see with Stanton is that his outcomes on pulled groundballs — which was once fairly good, as a result of he hit them so laborious — have deteriorated drastically, as have his outcomes on pulled fly balls:

Giancarlo Stanton Groundballs and Fly Balls to Pull Aspect

Season Pull GB% EV LA Laborious-Hit% AVG Lg AVG SLG Lg SLG wOBA Lg wOBA
2018 20.0% 93.8 -12.4 49.4 .337 .243 .398 .286 .319 .230
2021 20.2% 94.4 -13.1 58.3 .236 .218 .278 .259 .223 .206
2022 18.6% 96.8 -11.8 57.1 .184 .220 .184 .259 .162 .209
2023 21.4% 91.3 -19.8 49.1 .113 .220 .113 .260 .100 .209
2018 5.5% 100.4 35.0 39.1 .478 .490 1.826 1.743 .937 .885
2021 4.8% 100.7 36.9 47.1 .438 .485 1.750 1.716 .826 .896
2022 6.1% 99.6 31.8 68.8 .667 .495 2.467 1.775 1.221 .899
2023 7.7% 99.9 37.2 36.8 .316 .493 1.263 1.797 .633 .912

SOURCE: Baseball Savant

As a result of xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA don’t account for spray angle, I’ve as an alternative used the annual league-wide averages for right-handed hitters the place I’d often put these figures. You’ll be able to see that Stanton was method under these averages final yr regardless of exit velos about 5 mph above the league-wide averages. His launch angles had been significantly excessive, provided that righties averaged -12.0 levels on pulled grounders and 34.7 levels on pulled fly balls. His 37.2-degree common on the latter was so excessive as to be unproductive; he was over 500 factors wanting the league common slugging proportion on fly balls. I couldn’t match it into the desk, however the estimated common distance on his pulled fly balls in 2023 was 344 ft, a full 20 ft shorter than his common from the yr earlier than; he averaged 356 ft in 2018 and 348 in ’21.

Among the lacking manufacturing in all probability owes to Stanton’s velocity, or lack of it. His dash velocity fell from the 69th percentile in 2018 to the thirteenth percentile by ’21, and was all the way down to the fourth percentile final yr. It’s seemingly that a few of that is intentional — his not working laborious at instances is a technique to forestall accidents or to keep away from turning minor aches into main issues — however it’s little doubt costing him hits right here and there, contributing to his shortfalls in batting common relative to xBA. In truth, a fast have a look at his participant web page reveals that his fee of infield hits per groundball (IFH% on his participant web page) has fallen from 12.8% in 2018 to 4.4% in ’21, 4.1% in ’22 and a couple of.8% final yr.

In the meantime, Stanton received beneath much more balls than common, no matter route, resulting in the next proportion of innocent popups and flies. His 26.6% Underneath fee was his highest of the Statcast period, effectively above his 19.7% in 2022; he hadn’t been above 22% since ’16. He went 6-for-66 on these balls in 2023, which was truly higher than his 2-for-52 in ’22 or his 4-for-70 in ’21; the issue was that these balls occupied a bigger share of his contact.

Although he nonetheless slugged .533 in opposition to four-seamers and .516 in opposition to sinkers, Stanton was a lot much less productive in opposition to fastballs of each varieties than prior to now. He struggled with sliders, as he often does, and was completely helpless in opposition to curveballs, which was comparatively new. In 2018, he hit .233 and slugged .517 in opposition to curves, and even in ’22, he was at .222 AVG/.389 SLG; final yr, he plummeted to .115 AVG/.269 SLG. His warmth maps present that he has severe holes in his swing. Right here’s a comparability between his warmth maps for barreled balls in opposition to fastballs (the highest pair) and breaking balls (the underside pair); 2018 is on the left and ’23 on the suitable. Word how a lot smaller the protection of the latter is — he didn’t barrel a single ball in opposition to pitches exterior these areas — and the way there’s a lot much less pink.

Right here’s a have a look at the development of Stanton’s general xwOBAs by Gameday zone:

Take a look at the sequence within the decrease proper nook of the strike zone. Inside this timespan, Stanton’s xwOBAs in that cell have dropped from .287 to .252 to .207 to .129 (see right here to zoom in on the numbers). In the meantime, all the pink has disappeared from the higher and outer thirds of the zone. As Alex Chamberlain wrote final week, that higher third is especially necessary with regards to producing pulled fly balls, so it doesn’t assist that Stanton’s whiff fee in that a part of the zone has climbed from 23.1% in 2018 to a decimal or two on both aspect of 30% within the final two seasons — greater than double the league-wide fee.

Notably in gentle of the info, I’m hardly the primary to surprise if Stanton’s sequence of decrease physique accidents has compromised his flexibility, contributing to these open holes in his swing. Certainly, in September at Pinstripe Alley, Malachi Hayes constructed on FanGraphs contributor Esteban Rivera’s visible breakdown of some mechanical points Stanton was having, mentioning the slugger’s elevated issue with low breaking balls and the best way pitchers had been going even decrease in opposition to him:

Sliders and changeups, making up a few third of the pitches he sees, are crossing the plate rather less than two inches decrease and a bit of bit farther away than they’ve over the previous couple of years. It appears like a small change, however the distinction reveals up in warmth maps — particularly in opposition to right-handed pitchers — and it appears more and more clear that he simply can’t go down and get these pitches like he used to.

Stanton, whose work ethic and conditioning have by no means been unsure inside the group, instructed reporters he spent the offseason specializing in mobility and on altering his swing. Improved mobility ought to assist him discover time in an outfield combine that may embrace Alex Verdugo in left, Aaron Decide in middle, and Juan Soto in proper. Mild-hitting Trent Grisham may help in middle, and whereas that would imply Decide spending time in left subject, as supervisor Aaron Boone advised final month, it’s in all probability going to imply numerous DH responsibility for No. 99 as effectively, given his personal damage historical past. The state of affairs will solely turn out to be extra crowded as soon as Jasson Domínguez returns from the Tommy John surgical procedure he had in September. Except Stanton can play the outfield — extra seemingly proper subject, with Soto slotting in left — he stands to lose enjoying time. He performed simply 33 video games within the outfield final yr, and 38 the yr earlier than, and the outcomes had been fairly poor (a mixed -7 DRS, -4 RAA, and -0.8 UZR in 567 innings for the 2 seasons). Extra mobility definitely couldn’t damage.

As for the promised adjustments, right here’s a glimpse of the 6-foot-4 Stanton (listed at 245 kilos however trying lighter) showing sort of skinny subsequent to the 6-foot-7, 282-pound Decide, by way of Newsday’s Erik Boland:

Right here’s a side-by-side comparability of Stanton’s stance, from final season to this yr, courtesy of The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner:

And right here he’s taking a BP lower:

Stanton is extra upright, along with his again leg nearer to the plate than earlier than, however at this stage of depth and the restricted variety of angles, it’s robust to say greater than that. Provided that it’s February, his adjustments — and people of everyone else who reported to camp speaking about swing tweaks, new pitches, and improved coaching regimens — needs to be thought of a piece in progress. With the addition of Soto, there’s a bit much less stress on Stanton to be one of many lineup’s main producers, however the Yankees can’t justify enjoying him if he remans under alternative stage. We’ll see quickly sufficient whether or not he can return to being near the harmful hitter he was once.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *