The Yankees are in first place in the American League East, and their 35-18 (.660) record is good for 3rd best in the Major Leagues. That’s a 107 win pace, and that success has been no joke: the Yankees are tied for 4th in runs scored and 7th in fewest runs allowed across the league. Since those first two weeks, it feels like everything has come up Yankees. There’s been no shortage of unexpectedly strong performances from many players fans had written off, and it really does feel like they’re never out of a game. It’s been fun.
That the Yankees have done all of this without many of their key players should be the most exciting part. After all, think back to the second week of April—did you really expect the Yanks to be in this position? But, for some fans and commentators, this recent run of success is another proof point against Giancarlo Stanton in what has become one of the most tiresome “debates” among Yankee fans. A fairly significant segment of the fandom is fed up with Stanton, as a sample of some headlines on Giancarlo from the past few months demonstrates:
- Are Yankees regretting Giancarlo Stanton trade (NJ.com response to a mailbag question)
- Could Yankees trade Giancarlo Stanton? Report suggests ‘rumblings’ (NBC Sports Boston, writing off a Boston Globe report)
- Nine more years: Giancarlo Stanton presents dilemma for Yankees after proving to be more flawed than expected (SNY)
- Why Yankees miscalculating on Giancarlo Stanton could cost them Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? (SNY)
- Giancarlo Stanton must excel in playoffs to endear himself to Yankees fans (am New York)
- Do the Yankees miss Giancarlo Stanton at all? Or are they better off without him? (WFAN)
This is only a brief sample, and any Yankee fan who spends any time on Twitter or listening to WFAN knows that Giancarlo Stanton is a controversial figure—and now, as the last headline shows, some folks are suggesting that the Yankees are better without him. That’s absurd for some fairly obvious reasons, but still: let’s dive into this.
Current Yankee Production
As good as the Yankees have been, it’s clear that there are still many areas for improvement for the team. Consider the team’s outfield performance in 2019, with their overall MLB rank in parentheses:
- Average: .247 (19th)
- On-Base Percentage: .340 (14th)
- Slugging: .436 (15th)
- wOBA: .333 (14th)
- wRC+: 107 (11th)
- fWAR: 3.5 (10th)
Solidly middle-of-the-road outfield production right there. Of course, that’s much better production that we would have guessed when the team was down Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge, but it’s still mediocre. The team is thriving, but these figures don’t exactly inspire confidence if the Yanks want to keep up the torrid pace over the long-term.
Stanton also plays DH, so it is worth looking at how the Yanks’ DH production stacks up against the rest of the league as well. To the numbers (excluding, obviously, the NL):
- Average: .218 (14th out of 15)
- On-Base Percentage: .338 (7th)
- Slugging: .396 (13th)
- wOBA: .319 (11th)
- wRC+: 97 (10th)
- fWAR: -0.3 (13th)
Pretty bad! The Yanks have not received much production from their DH slot all season. Again, this will likely need to improve if the Yanks want to keep up the pace.
To sum up, the Yankees really haven’t had great production from their outfield as a whole nor from the DH position so far in 2019. They’ve actually been middle-of-the-pack at best in most meaningful offensive categories there, so it’s not like Stanton’s specific replacements have set the world on fire in his absence.
Where Stanton Fits In
This should be obvious, no? Stanton would immediately step into either role and serve as an automatic upgrade. He’s a career .268/.358/.547 (142 wRC+) hitter with enormous power, a former MVP winner, and still in his prime. It’s truly absurd to pretend that any team wouldn’t miss a bat like that.
Even last year, when he had a comparatively down year by his standards, he hit .266/.343/.509 (127 wRC+) with 38 home runs in 158 games. 158 games! I really feel like people forgot that Giancarlo played nearly every day last year. All told, his 2019 was worth 4.2 fWAR – which ranked 32nd in baseball among the 140 players who qualified for the batting title. He even hit .301/.363/.581 with 27 home runs in 94 games last year from May 1 to August 18. He was a real MVP during this stretch—when the Yankees were hurt and often struggling— and therefore a big reason why the Yankees won 100 games and made the postseason.
If Stanton came back tomorrow, he’d immediately be the most feared hitter in their lineup (even counting Gary) and would slot into either corner outfield position or DH. He’s an automatic upgrade and the data shows that, despite winning, the Yankees desperately miss him—and fans should only hope he’ll return to the Bronx as soon as possible.