Chances are that Giancarlo Stanton is going to be a top-25 pick in your 2014 draft. So was the case this year, when Stanton was selected No. 13 overall, according to FantasyPros.com, despite playing on a laughably bad offense. The Marlins finished the season dead last in runs scored (513) and wRC+ (72) while the next closest team -- the White Sox -- finished with 598 and 83, respectively.
Did we know it was going to be this bad? Probably not. But we all had a hunch it was going to be not good and drafted Stanton anyway.
The Marlins have since breathed new life into their roster, adding catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, first baseman Garrett Jones, third baseman Casey McGehee and 36-year-old shortstop Rafael Furcal. According to MLB Depth Charts, Miami's 1-8 lineup looks like this:
2B Rafael Furcal
LF Christian Yelich
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Garrett Jones
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
CF Marcell Ozuna
3B Casey McGehee
SS Adeiny Hechavarria
Not exactly a murderer's row. Lineup protection might be a myth, but anyone arguing that a supporting cast including Chris Coghlan, Placido Polanco and Casey Kotchman didn't affect Stanton's final numbers should stop going to the Clevelander. Yes, Stanton missed more than 40 games with a strained hamstring and foot injury, but the Miami slugger never got on track, finishing with a slash line of .249/.365/.480 in 504 plate appearances with 24 home runs, 62 runs and 62 RBIs.
One area you can see the results of a dampened lineup is in his walk totals. Stanton's walk rate shot up more than five percent this season (14.7 percent, up from 9.2), and, despite getting in three more plate appearances, Stanton's run and RBI totals decreased by 13 and 24, respectively. Interestingly, he only received five intentional walks compared to nine in 2012, but opposing pitchers might have been practicing the unintentional-intentional walk. Some numbers that help support this case is a first-pitch strike rate of 53 percent (down from 60.9; league average of 60.3), and a Zone% -- or percentage of pitches seen inside the strike zone -- of 38.2 percent (down from 41.6; league average of 44.7).
For someone expected to chase the league home-run title, Stanton's 24 long balls certainly qualified as a disappointment. Miami's home-run king suffered a huge drop in both ISO (.231, down from .318) and HR/FB rate (21.8 percent, down from 28.9). Stanton's 304-foot distance was 12th highest in baseball, however, so do expect both numbers to rebound. Still, if you were only looking to draft power, you would have been much better off selecting Brandon Moss and/or Nelson Cruz, both of whom had more home runs in fewer plate appearances. Moss probably went undrafted in your league, and there was at least one prognosticator who trusted Cruz's power over Stanton's.
The area that doubly hurt Stanton owners was a .249 average, down from .290 in 2012. Looking back, expecting another .290 average would have been foolish, given his previous two seasons of .262 (2011) and .259 (2010). The BABIP monster bit Stanton in a big way, dragging his batting average to below league average. Another .290 season, given his batted ball profile, is probably not in the cards.
Stanton is only 24, and the potential for a 40-home run season can happen at any time, including as soon as 2014. But, given Miami's modest offseason additions, are you really willing to spend a second rounder for a one-dimensional player on a crummy team? I'm not saying to avoid Stanton altogether, but I'd much rather take someone with a track record of consistency OR the ability to produce in more than one area of the game (Bryce Harper or Carlos Gomez, for example).
Despite Stanton's immense talent, he's never topped 80 runs or 90 RBIs in a season. Why not wait two or three rounds later and draft someone like Jay Bruce instead, who has a three-year average of 32 home runs, 87 runs and 101 RBIs. At the least, Stanton's season should make you think twice about drafting a talented player on a talentless roster.
Stats from FanGraphs and BaseballHeatMaps.com
- 3 UP / 3 DOWN: 2014 Shortstop Position
- Keeper League Trade: Oscar Taveras for Giancarlo Stanton
- Deep League Drafting: First Base
- 2014 Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Washington Nationals
- Discussing Mike Trout's Auction Price in 2014
- Fantasy Football: Week 16 Rankings, Waiver Wire and More
- Fantasy Basketball: Surprises and Disappointments