For years, I’ve considered Ichiro Suzuki my favorite player. He embodies so many of the things about baseball that I find beautiful and poetic and whimsical. At the moment, however, I only have eyes for Mike Stanton. He’s new and he’s big and he’s glossy. There’s nothing poetic or whimsical about him. He’s a little like America. He’s big and he’s new and he’s not carrying a ton of baggage. Well, maybe he’s like America was a little while ago.
That reminds me, if only there were some sort of tournament pitting countries against one another, it would be a fantastic opportunity to see differing styles of play. The American team would have a bunch of big dudes who strike out a ton and hit the ball a country mile. Oh right, I already wrote about this.
As we approach the one year anniversary of Stanton’s Major League debut, I thought I’d get a jump on the other baseball authorities and take a look at Mike’s first 150 games on the sport’s largest stage.
Keep in mind, Stanton’s rep has always been that he’s a raw athlete. Not a polished hitter like Jason Heyward, Stanton was a multiple sport star in high school, and was receiving overtures from Pete Carroll to play football at USC.
In 151 games, all shy of his 22nd birthday, Stanton has 34 home runs and 91 RBI. His .262/.333/.527 doesn’t wow as much as the fact that he’s improved in every category from last year to this. And I mean every category. His batting average is up, his walks are up, his slugging is up, his strikeouts are down. He showed the same ability to improve in the Minors, cutting down on his swing and miss %, thought to be his achilles heel, every year.
People who know the guy rave about Stanton’s work ethic and his demeanor in general.
What could Stanton’s ceiling possibly be? If Harpthrob is baseball’s LeBron, Stanton might be LeBron’s way more physically gifted older brother. I think it’s easy to look at him and say he’s going to hit a ton of homers and top out at about .280. Well, he’s hitting .270 now and he’s 21. For such a large individual, his swing is actually pretty darn compact. I think he might hit 3,000 home runs.
It will be interesting to see how the new Miami Marlins stadium will play, and how that will ultimately affect Stanton’s production. 4,000 home runs?
With Posey and Heyward grabbing the majority of the headlines last year and battling injuries and unmet expectations in their sophomore seasons, my eyes are trained on Mike Stanton. My wife knows.