The Tuesday Discussion: Giancarlo Stanton?
Assuming that Giancarlo Stanton comes back healthy in September, how would you work him into the lineup?
Where does he play and how often?
Where would you bat him in the lineup?
The SSTN writers respond:
Lincoln Mitchell: If Giancarlo Stanton is healthy, and the rest of the team is in the same health status it is now, I would give Stanton a couple of weeks as the full time left fielder and then reevaluate from there. If Stanton can play at his 2017 or 2018, level, he is a valuable contributor, but if he is further into his decline phase, I would be worried. The Stanton trade was very exciting at the time, but as time goes by it looks like a mistake for the Yankees, not so much because he is not good player, but because they have committed an enormous amount of money to a player who fills a need that they did not have. Right now, I don’t think too many big leagues teams would take Stanton and his contract in exchange for a mid-tier pitching prospect.
Matthew Cohen: Right now the Yankees have Gardner and Judge as starters and Tauchman and Maybin rotating for the third outfield spot. All four are playing well even if Judge is far below his historical averages.
Once Voit comes back they will have an extra infielder who can fill the DH spot.
I’d send Stanton to AAA and force him to prove that he should replace someone in the starting 9. If he can’t, he should sit on the bench once the minor league season ends in early to mid September (Scranton should make the playoffs).
The Yankees are trying to win a championship. They can’t afford to play someone based on his performance two years ago.
Ethan Semendinger – IF Giancarlo Stanton comes back, which hopefully happens in early early September, getting him at-bats both should and shouldn’t be the number one priority. If players like Mike Tauchman, Cameron Maybin, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Judge (even with his significant down offensive year) are playing like they have been this season, you shouldn’t risk getting them ‘cold’ by messing up their consistent playing time. If they start to fall-off, remember Gardner’s tendencies to slow down in the 2nd half and Judge looking more and more mechanically lost at the plate this season, then Stanton can be easily slotted in for those two to get him those at-bats. He needs at-bats, obviously, but I don’t want to cool down a player having a career (or late career) year. (See: Tauchman, Gardner, Maybin.)
Given the two scenarios above, Stanton will most likely be playing DH and RF. In the first, I could see him playing 4/5 games a week, flip-flopping with Judge and Sockman once a week each as well as 2/3 games at DH. In the second, I see him getting 6+ games a week (if possible), where he takes over for whoever slowed down at the plate in the outfield, as well as 1/2 games at DH.
I would bat him lower to start, if he hits then he will move up quickly. If not, keep him lower in the lineup. (I believe this should be the basic framework for line-ups. Play the hot hands early and be willing to move players around.) Stanton will always be a threat and him being able to be the 7th man in the line-up would be awesome to see. Regardless, he cannot bat behind Judge. They strike out back-to-back too consistently which makes it a drag to watch and an easy to see rally killer.
Patrick Gunn – I would try to work Stanton back into the lineup as gradually as possible. That’s easier said than done this late in the season, with the minor leagues wrapping up meaning little time for rehab down there plus a title run to finish off, but given how many injuries he’s had, Stanton might be gone for good if he’s rushed back. I would try and give him some reps in the outfield, but his bat is more important to the team. Given the severity of Encarnacion’s injury, the Yankees could use a big right-handed power bat at the DH spot. Not to mention the Yankees have a solid outfield tandem of Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks (who also needs to be worked back into the lineup), Mike Tauchman, and Cameron Maybin. As for where he bats, I would still put him in the heart of the order, batting third as the highest and fifth as the lowest. Yes, the Bombers have received fantastic performances from replacements like Gio Ursula, Tauchman, and Maybin, but none of these players have the elite power as Stanton. Granted, he’s only played nine games, but Stanton still has an average exit velocity of 96.9 miles per hour, second only to Judge’s 97.7. Also, he was a major cog in the Yankees’ offense last year when Judge and Gleyber Torres were hurt and Sanchez was struggling. If he can catch up to speed, Stanton absolutely should be a major part of the Yankees’ lineup this October.
Andy Singer – Despite how often we’ve discussed the truly excellent play by “depth” outfielders like Mike Tauchman, Cameron Maybin, and Brett Gardner (remember: Gardy was supposed to have reduced playing time as the fourth outfielder this season!), it still feels strange to talk about the Yankees’ embarrassment of riches in the outfield, particularly when you consider the question of who sits in favor of Stanton. By Baseball Reference’s version of WAR, Tauchman has been worth 3.4 WAR, Maybin has been worth 1.3 WAR, and Gardy has been worth 3.4 WAR. Obviously, Gardy has played a fair amount of CF this year, but roughly 41.6% of his innings have come in LF this season. While this is not really the right way to do it, if we chalk up 41.6% of Gardy’s value in WAR to his play in LF, then you could argue that Gardy’s LF contributions are (very) roughly 1.4 WAR. Add it all up, and the three have been worth a total of 6.1 WAR in the outfield corners this year. If we were told back in March that Stanton would produce a 6.1 bWAR season, we all would have been ecstatic!
That said, we all know what Stanton’s potential is given his prolific 80-grade power, so the Yankees must balance finding Stanton enough at-bats to get into a groove prior to the playoffs with the need to keep Tauchman, Maybin, and Gardy sharp. For Stanton, I think it makes the most sense to split his time between DH and LF fairly evenly. This ensures that he gets the needed at-bats to sharpen up, while seeing enough time in the outfield to re-acclimate out there in game situations. Let him bat back-to-back with Judge (which might give both of them better pitches to hit) on days he is in the lineup, and play him on alternating days in LF and DH, making sure he gets 4-5 games per week. At a minimum, Stanton should get 20 plate appearances per week to get him up to speed.
Particularly since we don’t know when/if Hicks will be back, there should be enough playing time available to get all of Gardy, Tauchman, Maybin, and Stanton their licks. Let Stanton hit in the 3-hole in front of Judge, and hope he gets healthy, and rakes in September.
Paul Semendinger – Once he is back, Giancarlo Stanton has to play. I would work out a rotation with the healthy outfielders and DH-types to assure that every player stays sharp. I would not bat Stanton and Judge back-to-back. That, to me, is a recipe for disaster as they are both vulnerable to the same types of pitching approach and watching them strike out back-to-back time and again is frustrating to say the least. One thing I enjoy about Mike Tauchman (and others) is their approach to hitting, taking pitches, swinging only at strikes, not getting themselves out… seemingly having a plan at the plate. I know the other hitters do as well, but it just seems they guess a lot.
I will also say this… I hope that Stanton hits a TON of homers so I can enjoy lots of Kit Kats with Ethan (across the miles).
Mike Whiteman – I would make Stanton has to be a primary part of the lineup as soon as he comes off the IL, at DH and outfield. At the least, Boone and Cashman need to know his capabilities going into the postseason.