TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 24: Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees gets ready to bat in the first inning during the spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Steinbrenner Field on February 24, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.
(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Following an injury-riddled 2019 campaign, Giancarlo Stanton could bounce back and redeem himself over a shortened 60-game season. 

Thomas Hall

Entering his third season with the New York Yankees, it’s safe to say the Giancarlo Stanton blockbuster trade hasn’t exactly panned out thus far.

Despite slugging 38 home runs and 100 RBI’s during his inaugural season in the Bronx, Stanton failed to stay on the field in 2019, playing in just 18 games. The former Marlin battled through biceps, shoulder, and calf injuries and underwent a disastrous second season with the Bombers. Not to mention, he didn’t provide much upside during the playoffs either.

To make matters worse, the 30-year-old slugger sustained a calf injury during spring training — the first version — while fielding fly balls. But thanks to Major League Baseball’s four-month hiatus, the 6-foot-6 outfielder was able to rehab his injury during this global pandemic. As a result, he’ll likely be ready to play on Opening Day.

While nothing is set in stone, it appears Stanton will probably spend the majority of the 2020 campaign at the designated hitter spot. It will indeed limit his overall value, but it could also help his chances of remaining healthy and in the lineup throughout the season.

If Stanton can stay off the injured list in 2020 (which seems to be a tall task for him), he could enjoy a very successful season at the plate. Furthermore, the former second-round pick could redeem himself for his disappointing 2019 performance with a promising third season in pinstripes.

Even though it was over a limited sample size, the right-handed batter did show some signs of optimism over his 72 plate appearances last season. Along with hitting a trio of home runs with 13 RBI’s, he additionally produced a .424 BABIP (career-high), .379 wOBA, 25% barrel rate, 16.7% walk rate, 41.7% hard-hit rate, 139 wRC+ score, 0.4 fWAR rating, and a slashing line of .288/.403/.492/.894.

Adding to these encouraging results, Stanton — who’s historically struggled against breaking balls in his career — created the majority of his production against curveballs and sliders in 2019.

Over his 25 plate appearances, the four-time All-Star hit two home runs and generated a .348 AVG, .298 xAVG, .652 SLG, .612 xSLG, .439 wOBA, .393 xwOBA, 8% walk rate, 53.8% hard-hit rate, 30.8% barrel rate along with a 95.7 miles-per-hour average exit velocity against those pitches. Additionally, he generated a 41.7% whiff rate, his lowest percentage since his 2010 rookie season.

Based on Stanton’s poor track record against breaking balls, these impressive metrics probably aren’t sustainable over a full season. Luckily, the 2017 National League MVP won’t need to worry about playing 162 games this year.

Since the 2020 season is scheduled for just 60 games, there’s a chance Stanton could catch fire at the end of this month and carry his hot streak over the entire campaign. While some experts are still doubting his ability to make an impact this year, the two-time Silver Slugger Award winner is certainly capable of providing stellar results in a short period of time, as he recorded a pair of solid 60-game stretches in 2017 and 2018.

Starting with his MVP season, the California native enjoyed plenty of success during the middle months of the 2017 campaign. Without his 60-game hot streak amid the dog days of summer, he likely wouldn’t have been able to generate an MLB-leading 59 home runs and 132 RBI’s in what was his final season with the Marlins.

From June 24 to Aug. 31, Stanton produced 12 doubles, 32 home runs, 62 RBI’s, a .484 ISO, .475 wOBA, 13.6% walk rate, 23.5% strikeout rate, 46.3% FB rate, 42.6% hard-hit rate, 201 wRC+ score, and a slashing line of .305/.409/.789/1.198 over his 264 plate appearances.

Similar to the 2017 campaign, the Notre Dame High School standout was also performing at his best halfway through the 2018 season. While he didn’t create monster numbers, No. 27 was still considered one of the top hitters within New York’s lineup over his 60-game hot streak.

From June 25 to Aug. 31, Stanton recorded 13 doubles, 14 home runs, 40 RBI’s, a .236 ISO, .362 BABIP, .379 wOBA, 10.8% walk rate, 27.9% strikeout rate, 44.2% hard-hit rate, 142 wRC+ score along with a slashing line of .292/.368/.528/.896 over his 269 plate appearances.

While no one is expecting Stanton to crush 60 home runs this season, these results prove he could serve as a game-changing weapon from the designated hitter spot. With that said, the veteran slugger will still need to prove he’s capable of staying healthy in 2020.

Since Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks are both coming off serious injuries, the Yankees will likely want to provide each of them with a few reps at the designated hitter spot this season. In addition, players like Miguel Andujar, Luke Voit, and Gary Sanchez could all be utilized at that position as well, which means Stanton will likely spend a few games in the outfield in 2020.

Based on his 2.0 OAA, 5.0 DRS, 7.3 UZR, and 17.7 UZR/150 from 2018, Stanton can probably serve as an average defender in 2020. Nonetheless, he’ll likely be at risk of reinjuring his calf by playing in the outfield, even if it’s just for a few games. With this in mind, the Yankees will need to remain extra cautious with him and trust that the veteran slugger’s body will hold up when he plays in the outfield and runs the bases.

With the Yankees preparing for a pivotal 2020 campaign, they can’t afford to have Stanton on the injured list for a significant amount of time. The aging outfielder could silence the doubters and prove he’s still one of the elite hitters in this league with a solid performance during the abbreviated season.