New York Yankees fans should stop panicking about Giancarlo Stanton’s recent failures and instead anticipate a perfectly timed hot streak.
When he started out the season by hitting .218 with just three home runs in April, he was justifiably booed and jeered at from the stands.
"Earn your pinstripes," one person screams as Giancarlo Stanton steps in. "Do anything," another chimes in.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 19, 2018
The media immediately pointed out the Alex Rodriguez parallels and speculated about the efficacy of the Yankees’ offseason move that everyone—including the president of the United States—originally lauded as genius.
Stanton made up for his awful April by hitting .288 with 28 home runs over the next four months, including hitting .310 in June and July.
Now he’s going through an even worse slump than he went through to start the season. Stanton is hitting .160 in September, with just one measly home run, and his too-frequent strikeouts could soon be punctuated with Bronx cheers again.
All the headlines are screaming about how this is such a horrible time for Stanton to be lost at the plate.
Those are the wrong reactions. If the Yankees can’t hold off the Oakland A’s for home field in the Wild Card Game, there are bigger problems to worry about.
An awful beginning of September from Stanton could actually be a blessing in disguise. This is not only the typical timing for a Stanton meltdown, but it is also a perfect setup for a strong October.
Slow starts and finishes
First of all, everyone should have seen this coming.
The 2018 season is following a very predictable pattern for Stanton. He starts off slowly, has a great middle of the year, and then finishes on a downturn.
His batting average and power numbers follow similar trends. Check out his career batting average and home run numbers by month:
- March/April — .251 AVG, 17.1 AB/HR
- May — .275 AVG, 12.5 AB/HR
- June — .272 AVG, 15.7 AB/HR
- July — .271 AVG, 13.5 AB/HR
- August — .280 AVG, 11.1 AB/HR
- September/October — .252 AVG, 14.3 AB/HR
It’s obvious that Stanton does not perform as well in April and September as he does during the rest of the season, although June is an aberration in terms of hitting for power.
Cold streaks are the norm
Stanton’s horrendous end of August/beginning of September might be the worst stretch of his career.
Things started going wrong for him on Aug. 24. In his 83 at-bats since then, he’s hitting .145 with two home runs and a 34.7 K percentage.
However, expand to include the 24 at-bats from the six games he played prior to Aug. 24, and his average jumps up about 60 points to .206, and his strikeout rate dips slightly to 33.3 percent. That’s still not good, but it’s easy to find similar runs in Stanton’s past.
In April, one Reddit user put together a list of Stanton’s cold streaks for each year, running all the way back to 2013. It proves that this is nothing new for the streaky slugger.
Here are the batting averages and strikeout percentages from that list, with one slight adjustment to the stats from 2015 and another cold streak found in 2011:
- June 6 to July 6, 2017 — .230 AVG, 36.8 K%
- May 1 to June 12, 2016 — .153 AVG, 36.8 K%
- May 1 to May 31, 2015 — .185 AVG, 31.7 K%
- July 1 to August 9, 2014 — .223 AVG, 30.1 K%
- April 1 to April 29, 2013 — .227 AVG, 29.5 K%
- May 26 to June 17, 2011 — .195 AVG, 25.8 K%
Stanton flounders for a time almost every year. The difference is that now he’s in the New York spotlight.
He gets hot as well
The good news is that Stanton usually follows up his worst slumps with hot streaks.
For example, after the 2016 slump, he went on a 16-for-40 tear to finish off June and then hit .305 in July. After he hit .185 in May 2015, he put up a .344 average with 12 home runs in June.
Here are some other times Stanton was crazy hot in the last few years:
- All of August 2017 — .349, 18 HR
- August 15 to August 28, 2012 — 18-for-46 (.391), 8 HR
- April 29 to May 15, 2014 — 25-for-62 (.403), 4 HR
- May 2 to May 20, 2018 — 19-for-56 (.339), 6 HR
- July 1 to July 23, 2018 — 28-for-77 (.364), 4 HR
This is Giancarlo Stanton in a nutshell. Expect to see much more of this bipolar hitting in the next 10 years, most likely with a significant increase in slumps toward the end of his gargantuan contract.
Don't worry about the future ... yet
We can talk all day about how Stanton is a bad long-term investment, how the Yankees are paying almost $30 million a year for the incarnation of a Katy Perry song who might set strikeout records when his bat speed falters.
— gih 🦋 (@perrylegends) September 14, 2018
However, Stanton is still a guy who hit 59 home runs in 2017. As long as he doesn’t sink into the Chris Davis abyss, he’s capable of rather helpful production for the next few years.
In the spirit of the late George Steinbrenner, all that matters is this year, and a well-placed hot streak from Stanton can help the Yankees get back to the World Series for the first time since 2009.
YES Network announcer David Cone and many others like to talk about progression and regression to the mean. This most recent cold stretch is nothing more than a violent regression to what Stanton really is: a .268 lifetime hitter who is currently hitting .265 on the season.
The regression should be coming to an end, though.
Time for another hot streak
Over the past few games, Stanton has already shown signs that he’s about to get hot again, with a two-run single on Friday, a home run on Saturday, and a couple of singles on Sunday.
Yankees fans should hope that Stanton very gradually gets his swing back through the end of September. Save the hot streak for the cold games that really matter in October.
Obviously, there’s no guarantee that Stanton will have a big October. He’s never been in a postseason game, so there’s no template for this.
But getting the slump out of the way in September is a good indicator that he’ll be ready to go. Also, he should be pretty hyped for his first chance at a championship.
When Stanton hit two home runs in his first game as a Yankee, that was an indication that he has the ability to rise to the occasion.
What better occasion than the 2018 MLB playoffs?