The National League MVP race is tight. There are several players all vying for position and attention, and all playing incredibly well. As a result, we don’t really know who will pick up the trophy at the end of the year. We’ve made our arguments for Arizona’s talented first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and for the Rockies dark horse Charlie Blackmon, now it’s time to talk about the Marlins’ mammoth outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.
The tower of power
Stanton hits home runs. Not only that, but he hits long home runs. He has seven home runs this year with a true distance of 450 feet or more. Over the years he has left dents around Marlins Park in parts of the stadium people thought well out of range.
He leads the Majors in homers this year with 36, four more than #2 in the NL Cody Bellinger. He’s just one off his career-high, which is kind of ridiculous given his notoriety as a long ball hitter. However, injuries and a pitcher-friendly park have robbed us of a lot more home runs over the years.
When you hit for so much power, the natural expectation is that you strike out a lot and have a low batting average, but that’s not the case with Stanton. A 23.4% strikeout rate is better than the likes of Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, and Joey Gallo. His .278 average is better than Mike Moustakas and Bellinger. Those names all have 30 or more homers this year. They are the power hitters trying to compete with Stanton, and they can’t do it.
Stanton plays corner outfield, which can be a problem as it makes him less valuable once the bat is out of his hands. Except, his arm is a cannon.
It doesn’t come through every time, he only has four assists this year, but his presence is enough to make third base coaches hold their players and second guess decisions. He is no Mookie Betts or Billy Hamilton, but he is far from a liability in the field.
The holes in the argument
However, there are a few reasons why Stanton’s case will fall through. The main one is that the Marlins are not going to make the playoffs. While Mike Trout broke that barrier last year, he did with a 9.4 WAR, 171 wRC+, .315/.441/.550 slash line, 29 homers, 30 steals, and 100 RBI. That kind of season can make people doubt the whole “how can you be an MVP if you didn’t make the playoffs” argument.
However, right now Stanton is posting a 149 wRC+ and a 3.6 WAR. To put that in context, Justin Turner and Bryce Harper lead the NL in wRC+ (163) while Anthony Rendon leads NL hitters with a 5.3 WAR. Stanton might end up leading the league in homers, but with the rest of his offensive arsenal lacking the potency of Harper, Blackmon, or Goldschmidt and with the Marlins languishing at 52-57, he is going to have to hit a lot more home runs to steal enough of the spotlight to get the votes he needs.
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