Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and the Yankees begin their quest to win the organization’s 28th World Series title on Tuesday in the Bronx. They’ll be hosting the Cleveland Guardians for Game 1 of the American League Division Series, which should be an interesting matchup.
As New York prepares for yet another postseason appearance, there are some keys to them having success. Obviously, having Judge firing on all cylinders at the top of the lineup is one of them. He can’t do it alone, though.
Gleyber Torres has put together a solid 2022 campaign. However, a hitter who can be crucial to making the Yankees’ lineup much deeper and more powerful is designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton. And when you take a peek at his season-long numbers, the dude has had an incredibly weird year.
He missed some time (Stanton appeared in just 110 games), but still managed to slug 31 homers. That’s the second straight year he’s surpassed that total and the fourth time since his NL MVP Award performance in 2017. His 2022 production was accompanied by a 115 wRC+ and 1.2 fWAR.
On the flip side, Stanton also struck out at a 30.3% rate and slashed .211/.297/.462 in 452 plate appearances. That strikeout rate was his highest since debuting in 2010 (31.1%). His batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage were also career-low marks when playing at least 100 games.
What’s really crazy is looking at his monthly stats. Stanton failed to produce a batting average higher than .175 at any time between June and September/October. A trip to the injured list was mixed in during that time, but this is alarmingly low for someone with the track record Stanton has.
He appeared in just 34 games following the All-Star break (134 plate appearances) and hit .151/.246/.336 with seven homers, 17 RBI, and a 38.1% strikeout rate, which led to a 68 wRC+. A couple of things have changed when we compare what he did before the midsummer classic and after it.
Stanton’s quality-of-contact numbers mostly stayed the same, but his line-drive rate plummeted (16.8% to 8.8%) and his ground-ball rate skyrocketed (44.4% to 52.9%). This was accompanied by an increase in chase rate, a decrease in his swing rate on balls in the strike zone, and a lot less contact.
The right-handed slugger’s contact rate went from 68.7% in the first half (77.1% in the strike zone) to 59.9% in the second half (68.9% in the strike zone). What is intriguing about Stanton’s finish to the regular season, though, was what he did in his final three games.
The 32-year-old slugged seven homers in September/October, which included a dinger in each of his final three games. He did that while hitting second in the lineup, but we can expect him to hit fourth or fifth based on where manager Aaron Boone has penciled him in this season.
His ability to hit the long ball will come in handy during the postseason when runs are at a premium. And if Big G is feeling good at the plate, it makes the Yankees’ offense look much different. He’s elevated his game in October during his last two trips to the playoffs, too.
Stanton slugged a homer in the Wild Card Game against the Red Sox last season. In 31 plate appearances during the 2020 postseason, Stanton slashed .308/.387/1.038 with six homers and 13 RBI.
It’s been a weird year for Stanton with the Yankees, but there’s a chance he found his power stroke just in time for New York to make a run at another championship.