10 Positions in 10 Weeks: Analyzing the Designated Hitter
In Week 9 of a 10-week series, I will be analyzing the one position that has no place in the field, the designated hitter.
Since he arrived in the Bronx before the 2018 season, Giancarlo Stanton has been another powerful presence in the Yankees’ already power heavy lineup. It has been a struggle for him to stay in the lineup over the past two seasons due to injuries, as he has only played in 41 games since 2019 after playing in 158 in 2018.
In 23 games during the 2020 season, Stanton hit four home runs and drove in 11 RBIs with an OPS of .887. But in seven postseason games, he hit six home runs and drove in 13, and was arguably the best Yankee during the playoffs.
Before these injuries, Stanton was seen as the everyday DH and would start in the outfield to give other players a half- or full-day off. Today, there would be no way that Stanton could manage to play consecutive days in the field, if any time in the field at all. He’s yet to play the field since 2019 and may have nowhere to play if Clint Frazier moves back to left field.
So what does this mean for Stanton going forward? It means he is going to be the everyday DH for the next seven seasons, after he opted-in to the final seven years, $218 million of his lucrative 13-year, $325 million pact signed after the 2014 season.
With the leg injuries he has sustained, Aaron Boone will be sure that Stanton’s injury probability is kept as minimal as possible. By keeping him out of the field, he is helping that cause.
In my opinion, I believe that Stanton is ready for a comeback season. He’s been sidelined several times with nagging injuries that he could not play through, and is ready to have a longer season than the previous two.
The offensive numbers will be important, but getting him plate appearances day after day is what is most important. After all, he cannot have success if he is not on the field. The home runs and RBIs will come if he continues to stay healthy, even if it does not come immediately.
Hopefully, the Yankee injury curse is over, because it will allow players like Stanton, who have been hurt too often for too long, get back into their usual groove.
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