Let’s Talk Stanton and Cole

It’s easy to get wrapped up in discussing Aaron Judge but there are other players on the Yankees about whom we need to chat. In no particular order…

Let’s talk about Giancarlo Stanton:

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I really question if Stanton has been playing injured for a while and we’re just not being told. In July, Big G posted an anemic 74 wRC+ over 69 PA prior to hitting the IL and since returning, his wRC+ has been 37 (THITY SEVEN) over his last 78 PA.

On the season, his OPS+ stands at 108 which isn’t “bad” per se, but is much more in line with what mortals do. For some perspective, coming into this year his career OPS+ was 143, and was 134 as a Yankee.

However, if we’re looking for a ray of sunshine we may have seen it on Sunday. (It was easily overlooked due to Aaron Judge hitting two irons all over the park in Milwaukee.) Stanton’s four batted balls were hit at 109.5, 105.9, 97.1 and 94.9 mph* – that’s a great day at the plate with some bad luck. Hopefully that’s a sign he’s starting to square the ball up again, or that he’s 100 percent healthy.

(*Although it should be noted that Anthony Rizzo’s home run was struck at 94.7 mph which should serve as yet another reminder: Hit the ball in the air, kids.)

I can’t believe we’re still talking about Gerrit Cole.

As I noted over the weekend, I’ll never understand the obsession baseball media and fans have with the percentage of runs scored or allowed on home runs. The scoreboard says “how many”, not “how” – whether a team scores (or allows) all of its runs via the long ball or none is completely irrelevant.

Of course this arose as a result of Cole surrendering a few more long balls in Milwaukee to add to his AL leading total. Let’s start with this: There are plenty of pitchers in Cooperstown who allowed home runs at a higher rate than Cole does in 2022. A residual side effect of being an aggressive pitcher who throws a lot of innings for a good team (i.e., not walking people, being good enough to log innings, and often pitching with a lead) is a good number of balls will be hit over the wall. So again…

Since the Yankees acquired Cole, he’s second among MLB pitchers in xFIP, K-BB%, and SIERA. Since the “sticky stuff” ban in June of ’21 he’s second among MLB pitchers in K-BB% and third in xFIP and SIERA. This season he’s third in MLB in both K-BB% and SIERA while ranking fourth in xFIP.

To be clear, xFIP and SIERA do factor home runs into their equations so even with the high number of souvenirs allowed he’s still clearly – and I mean clearly – one of the top five MLB pitchers since the Yankees acquired him, since the sticky stuff ban, and in 2022. To be even clearer, since those numbers are across MLB, any mention that he’s not the best pitcher on the Yankees is beyond silly.

Furthermore, what never gets mentioned in Yankees Universe but should, since the Yankees signed him Cole has been a damn work horse. He’s second across MLB in starts since 2020 and his 436 IP are the fourth most in baseball over that span. In an era in which so many pitchers can’t stay healthy – particularly on the Yankees – Cole’s ability to take the ball every fifth day should be lauded more often. As much as the Yankees’ staff has faced health issues over the past three years, imagine if they lost Cole for an extended period.

OK, but we still have to talk about Judge:

MLB.com’s Mike Petriello mentioned (and I agree 100 percent) that as odd as this may seem to say, all the discussion about Judge’s home runs are actually distracting people from seeing he that might be having the single best offensive season in baseball history. With some caveats about the pre-integration era, and the PED era, you can make a solid argument that this is the best season a hitter has ever had without even mentioning the home run total.

Did I miss something? Let me know. Leave a comment below, or yell at me @mybasebalpage1 on Twitter and/or the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.

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