Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Mike Stanton And Occasional Thrills

Mike Stanton hit another bomb last night. The young slugger has a flair for hitting some of the most monstrous shots in baseball. Monday night's shot was a laser that hit the third deck in St. Louis so hard that it ricocheted back on to the field almost as quickly as it left. Mark McGwire, sitting in the Cardinal dugout, had to appreciate the bomb and remember when he used to hit them like that. Stanton has hit four home runs now in this still young season. Each one has been hit further than 400 feet. Mike Stanton is only 21 years old. Imagine when he learns how to hit.

First things first. Stanton needs to change his name and use his given name of Giancarlo. While that first name doesn't fit the Stanton surname, at least we wouldn't think of that lefty reliever that Joe Torre and Art Howe ground into dust in New York. There have been three Mike Stantons now in this Fan's lifetime. That's too many. Giancarlo would set him apart. All that said, if Stanton keeps hitting shots like he hits them, he will be the Mike Stanton that everyone remembers.

And no, Mike Stanton hasn't yet learned to hit in the major leagues. In 485 major league plate appearances, Stanton has hit a steady .260. He strikes out 32.5 percent of the time (34 percent overall). His line drive percentage of 15.4 percent shows a guy that doesn't center the ball often enough. He has negative pitch values on any kind of pitch that has a wiggle in it. From what the stats are showing, why anyone would ever throw him a fastball is beyond this writer's imagination. His only positive pitch numbers come against the fastball. And yet opposing pitchers are throwing him nearly 60 percent fastballs.

This is not a slam by any means against Stanton. The kid has increased his patience at the plate and is swinging at 28.2 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, a nice improvement over the 32.1 percent last year. While his batting average has stayed the same this year as last, his on base percentage has risen from .326 to .360. That shows signs that he is figuring things out a bit. But he has to be more consistent to attain the superstar label that everyone projects for him. Right now, he's streaky. He's hit two homers in three days and on Monday, hit a homer a triple and a single. If he can get his contact rate up, then he will be a star.

Regardless of all that, Giancarlo Stanton...umm...Mike...has become quite the show. His slugging percentage is north of .500 for his short career thus far and when he hits the ball, he does some damage. With power like his, he's one of those players you just have to watch on a regular bases in hopes of seeing one of those rockets hit off his bat.

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