Man, the NL is just chock full of quality MVP candidates this year. Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto and Charlie Blackmon are all very worthy. If not for injuries that robbed Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman of chunks of their season, they’d both be right there too.
But, have you seen what the artist formerly known as Mike Stanton has been doing down in South Beach? Maybe not, as he plays for the Marlins, but the big fella leads all of Major League Baseball in several key offensive categories. He’s the top dog in home runs with 50 (24 since the All-Star break) and also tops all of MLB in RBI, slugging percentage and OPS. Simply put, he’s tearing the cover off of the ball.
We’ve always known Stanton had huge power, but he’s always seemed to struggle to truly string together a season of this level of production. So what gives? For starters he’s remained healthy, having played in 128 of the Marlins 130 games. For a player who’s missed a minimum of 17 games in every season so far in his eight year career, that’s huge.
In addition to good health, Stanton made an in-season adjustment by closing his batting stance at the plate. His new approach has enabled him to drive the ball more effectively to all fields, resulting in more home runs overall and a surge in deep balls being hit to center and right-center field. Simply put, Giancarlo is a very big, very strong man who doesn’t need to pull the ball to deposit it deep into the seats. Not even with the Grand Canyon-like dimensions at Marlins Park.
With just a touch over 30 games left, Stanton has an outside shot at some history. If he can reach 60 home runs, he’ll be just the 6th player to ever do so, and the first since Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa both did so in 2001. Regardless of whether or not he reaches that rarefied air, or if the Marlins make the playoffs, he’s your 2017 National League Most Valuable Player.
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