Last night, once again, I watched in astonishment at what Giancarlo Stanton can do to a baseball.
Also, once again, I wondered aloud how Yankee fans could ever boo this player. Stanton came to the team as a reigning MVP, accepted a position change, kept suffering injuries (not his fault) and yet still produced whenever he was on the field. And somewhat ironically, one of the benchmarks Yankee fans always use to decide which players are fan favorites, are clutch and postseason performances. I’ve said multiple times, I don’t believe in clutch, but if I did, I’d notice that Stanton is clutch as hell. Additionally, his 2020 postseason was as good as any Yankee has ever had.
Flash forward to this morning: I’m reading a new book about Roger Maris (more on that later in the week) and it mentions how he was booed unmercifully in 1962. Check out Maris’ numbers in 1962 and Stanton’s 2021 numbers:
Maris: 33 HR, 100 RBI, 126 OPS+
Stanton: 33 HR, 91 RBI, 137 OPS+
Guess Yankee fans will never change. Despite last night’s heroics, I guarantee if Stanton swings and misses at a slider off the plate tonight, Yankee fans will be screaming for him to waive his no-trade clause.
As much as the Giancarlo show got me fist pumping last night, there were a few things in last night’s game that were enormous factors in the Yankees’ win that shouldn’t go without mention. In no particular order:
Néstor Cortes Jr. once again just simply kept the Yankees in the game. I’ve written about it before a few times: Even when Cortes isn’t good, he’s not bad. He certainly wasn’t his best last night, and he received zero help from the home plate umpire, and yet he got the team into the fifth inning, allowing only two runs. Yankees’ bats hadn’t done anything to that point and yet they were still in the game thanks to Néstor.
In the top of the eighth, prior to Stanton’s home run, with two outs and nobody on, Brett Gardner worked a 6 pitch walk and took two separate two strike pitches that were this close. Aaron Judge then went to the plate and did the same – 6 pitches, and just looked at two that were just off the plate. Antony Rizzo followed by working a 3-1 count before getting hit by a pitch.
If either Gardner or Judge followed the old adage of “with two strikes, you gotta’ swing at anything close and just put it in play” we wouldn’t be talking about Stanton this morning because the inning would have likely ended with a swing and miss for strike three or a weakly batted ball turned into an out by either Gardner or Judge.
Normally I don’t enjoy kicking a man when he’s down, but in the case of Alex Cora, I’ll make an exception. After Gardner and Judge worked their walks, Cora went to the bullpen and brought in a lefty to face Anthony Rizzo (of course, with MLB’s new rule, the lefty – Darwinzon Hernandez – would have to stay in the game to face Stanton should he not retire Rizzo.) As we all know, Rizzo is better against lefties than righties and Stanton – well, Stanton is Joe DiMaggio against lefties.
(Laughs, shakes head…) Well played Mr. Cora, well played.
Did I miss anything? Let me know.
Let’s watch a baseball get vaporized one more time, shall we?
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