Giancarlo Stanton & Getting Nothing To Hit

In the couple weeks before Opening Day, hundreds of season prediction articles littered the baseball blogosphere. Naturally opinions varied, but almost nobody disagreed on one point: the Miami Marlins were expected to be terrible across the board and finish last in the NL East.

Well, more accurately, everything about the Marlins was expected to be putrid except Giancarlo Stanton.

And the Marlins have been awful. They currently own the worst winning percentage in baseball at .227. Breaking it down further, every facet of their performance has contributed to their 5-17 record. Their pitching staff has the fourth-worst ERA (4.48) in the league, they have compiled the lowest UZR (-14.0), and their offense has the worst wOBA (.257). In fact, they have the lowest wOBA in Major League Baseball by a staggering 30 points.

The poor performance has extended to Giancarlo Stanton, though. After essentially posting a six-win season in 2012 with 37 home runs and a .405 wOBA, he’s kicked off his 2013 campaign with no home runs, a .200/.324/.250 slash line, and a .267 wOBA. It hasn’t been pretty.

Of course, Stanton missed roughly a week in mid-April with a shoulder injury. While the injury could certainly be a significant contributor to his poor start, it goes beyond that. His poor performance appears to be an outgrowth of the talent around him, or the lack thereof. He’s arguably the only offensive threat in the lineup, and opposing pitchers are treating him as such. They’re not throwing him anything to hit. He’s seeing the lowest percentage of pitches in the strike zone of any hitter in baseball.

Player Zone%
Giancarlo Stanton 34.3%
Pablo Sandoval 34.6%
Carlos Gonzalez 38.5%
Nate Schierholtz 38.9%
Brandon Belt 39.2%

The lack of pitches in the strike zone has naturally led to an uptick in his walk rate. His 14.1% walk rate is highest of his career — so he’s still getting on base — but the power has been noticeably absent. Seeing an .050 ISO next to his name looks like a misprint. He has yet to hit a home run and only has three extra-base hits on the season.

His struggles may not simply be a case of being pitched around, though. It’s certainly part of it, but Stanton’s plate discipline numbers show something interesting:

Year O-Swing% Z-Swing%
2010 32.1% 62.8%
2011 33.6% 68.5%
2012 37.1% 66.0%
2013 39.5% 55.2%

He’s swinging at more pitches outside the zone, but his swing percentage at pitches in the strike zone has dropped precipitously. One would think that Stanton would jump on any pitch in the strike zone, considering he sees so few of them. The numbers don’t suggest that, though, and I don’t really know what to make of it.

For fantasy owners holding Giancarlo Stanton, it’s a difficult dilemma. He’s clearly getting nothing to hit due to the Marlins’ poor lineup, which could mean his numbers will suffer throughout the season. Do you think about selling Stanton and extracting whatever value you can get from an opposing owner? I can certainly understand the argument. I’m just not sure I could part with the talent.

Then again, it’s why I didn’t draft Stanton in any league this year. I swore off the Marlins. Protection within a lineup is generally overstated. With the Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton this year, though, I’m not sure it is. He’s the only dangerous bat in the lineup, and his numbers are suffering greatly because of that.

We hoped you liked reading Giancarlo Stanton & Getting Nothing To Hit by J.P. Breen!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs

J.P. Breen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. For analysis on the Brewers and fantasy baseball, you can follow him on Twitter (@JP_Breen).

newest oldest most voted
Chcago Mark
Chcago Mark

Almost everybody thinks he gets traded in the off-season. Any chance they pull the trigger during the year? There’s no reason for the Marlins to hold onto him when he isn’t producing and selling tickets. I see Texas or maybe Boston come July.


The Marlins will ask for the moon in addition to a haul in prospects, so I think it’s a bad idea to bet that he will be traded mid-season. He might be, but the Marlins have no reason to trade him during the season for something that isn’t larger than what they will get in the off-season. During the off-season, teams without a place for him in season are more likely to get in on the bidding.