Like many other Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton is off to a slow start offensively. He went 0-for-4 last night, which brought his full season line down to .167/.231/.278 (43 wRC+) in 39 plate appearances. It’s a far cry from the Stanton we saw last October.
People love to point at Stanton’s strikeout rate when he’s struggling, but that’s not the issue for him right now. His 28.1 percent K-rate is in line with his career norms. Rather, Stanton’s batted ball profile is his biggest issue at the moment. Including last night’s game in which he hit three groundouts, Stanton now has 16 grounders on 25 batted balls (64 percent). We’re used to watching him hit lasers and majestic fly balls, not worm killers. It’s also worth mentioning that he has three pop-ups so far, too. Those are also no good.
Stanton’s lifetime ground ball rate is just north of 43 percent, making his current (extremely small sample) performance a major outlier. On the bright side, he’s still stinging the baseball. Giancarlo’s 60 percent hard hit rate is in the 92nd percentile of the league. So, it just seems like something is off with his swing. I couldn’t tell you whether that’s mechanical, timing, or both (or something else!), but it’s clear that something’s not right.
When Stanton’s right, he’s not chopping pitches like this:
I know Rich Hill is known for his curveball, but that’s a hanger. It’s a middle-middle pitch that we’re used to seeing Stanton launch way over the fence. In fact, Stanton has bounced a number of pitches over the middle or higher so far in 2021.
And in case you can’t tell from that pitch chart, most of the slugger’s grounders have come against non-fastballs.
For the most part, it looks like Stanton is pulling off too many of these pitches. Of his 16 grounders so far, all but three have been to the left side of the infield. Ideally, we’d see him take more of these pitches up the middle or to right field.
Keep in mind that Stanton’s not a dead-pull slugger. He’s capable of going up the middle or the other way, as his career spray chart shows.
Stanton will turn things around with time. There’s really nothing else alarming going on for him thus far, which is good news. I already mentioned that he’s still crushing the ball, but it’s also important to point out that his discipline numbers are consistent with prior years. Ultimately, it’s just a matter of doing a better job squaring up the baseball. Basically, aside from his momentous grand slam, he hasn’t hit anything in the ideal range of exit velocity and launch angle:
As always, the most important thing for Giancarlo is to stay healthy. The hits and homers will follow. Remember, I’m breaking down an incredibly small sample size of 25 batted balls after 10 games. That’s the peril of blogging in early April, I guess. Still, it’s worth pointing out that Stanton’s problems look mechanical. He doesn’t look lost at the plate or overmatched. It’s only a matter of time until we see a run of dingers like this: