Throwing Cold Water On Everyone's Stanton-Boner

Thursday, March 1, 2012

This piece will probably upset the masses, but we feel it is necessary. Mike Giancarlo Stanton is getting a lot of press recently, from both local and national media. Most are predicting another extraordinary season from him, and why not? By many measures, he is joining elite company by slugging this well at such a young age.

Then you run across headlines like this (albeit, a Bleacher Report concoction):

Why Mike Stanton Will Win 2012 NL MVP

It isn't a long piece, but I can condense it into three simple sentences. Basically, Stanton is has accomplished a lot at a very young age. Plus, he is improving his walk and strikeout rate, which should make his numbers even better. Also, the Marlins should be good, so he'll get more exposure.

The writer failed to mention the biggest reason why Stanton, or any other NL player for that matter, will win the MVP; Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder now reside in the American League. This is on top of the fact that the argument isn't all that convincing, despite the lofty headline.

Stanton had some very interesting stats in 2011, as compared to his 2010 rookie season. He had very significant jumps in ISO (.248 to .275), wOBA (.355 to .378), and wRC+ (118 to 138), despite his BABIP falling from .330 to .314. Why? Mainly because he simply hit for even more power, and also had marked improvement in his strikeout rate and walk rate (up to 11.6%) last year.

There are a couple problems though. First, his K-rate remains very high (27.6% last year). It's trending in the right direction, but at least for now, Stanton is a power hitter who will rack up a bunch of K's. Because of this, pitchers will continue to challenge him, and while he had a much improved walk rate in 2011, that should level off.

There is also a troubling sign about his plate discipline. Mike swung at more pitches out of the strike zone in 2011, and he made contact on significantly fewer of those pitches. His overall swinging strike percentage rose as well. It's strange that those numbers would get worse, while most of his offensive statistics got better, but it's worth keeping an eye on, pun intended.

What does all this mean? Stanton should still be an absolute boss this year and worthy of much admiration. If you look at his FanGraphs page again, the five projections for the 2012 year all have him showing slight improvement in the major hitting categories. But, a .275 hitter with 40 home runs (no matter the absurd distances they will travel) is not a league MVP candidate. Instead, let's just enjoy the kid and not heap to much pressure on him. kthxbye


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