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  • Derek McAdam

This Yankee’s Off-Season Transformation Is a Positive Sign, But...

This Yankee’s Off-Season Transformation Is a Positive Sign, But Still Too Early to Dictate

By Derek McAdam

February 21, 2024

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After a disastrous 2023 season, several players for the New York Yankees have made some drastic changes going into the 2024 season. Carlos Rodon has cut some weight and arrived to Tampa six weeks ahead of when he was required to report. Aaron Boone has already praised Rodon’s early start to Spring Training, but the results Yankee fans are looking for are what he can do in the regular season and, perhaps, the playoffs.


In addition to Rodon, Giancarlo Stanton underwent an off-season transformation, in which he lost a noticeable amount of weight. Stanton said that instead of spending most of his time in the weight room, he instead ran in hopes of becoming “more mobile.” He also developed a new swing, which is definitely needed coming off a season in which he hit an abysmal .191 at the plate. Stanton also told reporters that this past off-season was the first off-season that he was fully healthy.


While it sounds strange to say that it’s an “motivating” sign to see athletes lose weight over an off-season, especially since their salaries should be the reason they stay in the best shape possible, Stanton’s case is a bit different, as he's never been overweight. He’s 6’6 and has weighed somewhere between 240-250 pounds, which is not a bad weight for someone his height. But for someone who has been plagued by leg injuries over the past few years, for Stanton to say he’s stayed healthy over this entire off-season while doing a lot of running is a good start.


I also like that Stanton worked on a new swing, because there was one noticeable flaw to his swing last season: he was late on fastballs in the mid 90s. I’m not a hitting expert (clearly), but I’m sure the swing at least somewhat contributed to Stanton being late to some fastballs. Maybe this new swing can help with that, even if it’s just a little. But, no changes can help Stanton from swinging at pitches a foot off the plate, so we’ll see if Stanton can improve in that area as well.


Here’s my biggest concern for Stanton. I like what he has done this off-season, but it’s going to take a couple of months of regular season play to see how well things turn out for him, at least in terms of his plate appearances. It won’t take as long to see if Stanton’s swing changes pay off at the plate, but his health status will be a subject that will be under the microscope all season.


Over the past two seasons, Stanton has only played in 211 games. Over most of that span, he has been the DH for the Yankees. And while the Yankees would much rather have Aaron Judge in right field, this season may be a bit different, which may create a big opportunity for Stanton. Judge is going to start the season in center field, and Alex Verdugo will likely start in left field, which will put Juan Soto in right field. While Soto is extremely talented at the plate, his defense is the big downside to his game.


Enter Stanton. Even if Stanton only plays the outfield two or three times a week, his production dramatically increases when he’s in the field. Boone has also said the same thing for a couple of seasons now: Stanton will play more in the field. It always starts out that way, but then his time is taken away and he returns to the everyday DH role, only to see his offensive numbers decline and injury risk skyrocket.


Yes, the Yankee outfield might take a hit defensively if Stanton plays, but I’d rather have Stanton in the lineup for the majority of the season. If he’s still in the lineup everyday come July or August, his production will likely be at a satisfactory rate. It would be a win-win for both Stanton and the Yankees.


Boone should insert Stanton into the outfield for several games a week once March rolls around. The Yankees will be able to really get a sense of how “mobile” Stanton is, and can determine how they will use him once the regular season is here, which is only a little more than five weeks away.


I’m cheering for Stanton to have a bounce-back season. Sure, he’s been injured a lot and hasn’t had the best success in the Bronx, but I’ve liked him since he came to the Yankees. He’s been a professional from Day 1 and has never said anything that has turned the fanbase away from him. He’s also faced tremendous pressure from the fans and media, due to his lucrative contract and the fact that he plays for the Yankees. But he’s never used it as an excuse for his struggles.


It’s also easy to tell that Stanton truly does care about improving himself to help the Yankees win a World Series. This isn’t the first off-season that Stanton has changed some things up, although this year’s does seem to be the most encouraging one yet. If Stanton can stay healthy and improve his offense at the plate, the Yankees can have a very strong lineup behind Soto and Judge. However, as I mentioned earlier, time will only tell. After all, baseball is not played on paper.

25 Comments


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Feb 21

I am thinking Stanton's new swing may be a result of his consultation with new Yankee hitting instructor James Rowson. Almost immediately after he was hired, Rowson reached out to Stanton and they were in contact during a good portion of the off season. Rowson expressed when he was hired that improving Stanton's hitting, and bringing him back to the way he is capable of hitting was his top priority. What I am wondering. With Stanton's new thinner build, will he be as powerful as he had previously been? What I do know is that he now has more of a "baseball body" instead of a "body builders body", so he will definitely be less injury prone now in r…

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Feb 22
Replying to

After I wrote this, I read a quote from Aaron Boone, saying that Stanton did not lose any strength when he slimmed down. Even though he now has a more flexible and agile "baseball body" instead of an injury prone "body builders body", as per Boone, he is still just as strong and still just as capable of sending baseballs a long way out of a ballpark.

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jjw49
Feb 21

I believe you have isolated the two players that have to step up for the Yankees to be successful this year.... Rodon and Stanton!

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fuster
Feb 21
Replying to

mostly Rodon

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Alan B.
Alan B.
Feb 21

The biggest problem with the Stanton in the OF even 2 times a week - Judge & Soto DH days, especially the Judge DH day is WHO PLAYS CF? Oh, yea, they have on the bench as a 4th OF, the $5.5M man himself, Trent Grisham. When is the last time Cashman let money sit on the bench? Kids, he sits on the bench, but not guys making money. Heck, in 2018, Cashman refused to sit his $5M man, Neil Walker, no matter how much of a nothing bat he was for most of that season.


The 3 LHB OFs Cashman acquired at the Winter Meeting, are all making real money. Soto is Soto, and Verdugo is making $8.7M himself…


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Melfman1
Melfman1
Feb 21
Replying to

Firstly, Walker only made $4 million.


Secondly, I think you’re forgetting just how beset with injuries the 2018 team was all season. They were banged up all year long in both the infield and outfield. Walker was originally signed to take over for Castro at 2B, in case Gleyber wasn’t ready for the majors. But injuries to Drury, DiDi, Bird, Ellsbury, Judge, Frazier, McKinney, etc, led to the promotion of both Gleyber & Andujar. They both hit immediately and took over at 2B & 3B respectively. Walker became a utility guy filling in for injured players in both the infield and outfield. He played at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF & DH.


To make the claim that he played just…

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fuster
Feb 21

is Stanton going to be capable of playing remotely decent defense in the outfield?


is it conceivable that the idea of Stanton playing defense will spur Soto into making a real effort at improving his own defense in order to hold off Stanton and avoid getting pushed into the DH slot.


it's certainly in Soto's interest to play acceptable defense in the season prior to his free agency

and it's also in the best interest of the Yankees to limit the stress on Judge's legs by limiting his innings in centerfield

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jjw49
Feb 22
Replying to

Hard Work, Determination and Desire..... I can't find any saber metrics that measure these traits on or off the field! 😄. Soto in pinstripes this year will be a revelation!

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etbkarate
Feb 21

It is a good sign that Rodon and Stanton showed up in great condition. However, before writing Stanton's name in the regular lineup he needs to prove to many that he is able to play the field without hampering the overall defensive scheme and run the bases without causing a log jam. That is still a very big ask!

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Feb 21
Replying to

That's the beauty of Spring Training. Boone can run him out there in the outfield during the Exhibition Games and see how he does in games that don't count, and then he will have an idea how he will be defensively, one way or the other, once the regular season starts.

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