Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Stanton Joins Elite Company As Slow Start Is A Distant Memory

Like the weather here in New York, it took Yankees left fielder Giancarlo Stanton a few weeks to warm up, and he is as hot a hitter as anybody in baseball.

In his last 15 games, all but one of which have been won by the Yankees, Stanton is hitting .296 (16-54) with five home runs and nine RBI, a .371 on-base percentage and a .648 slugging percentage, with just 21 strikeouts and seven walks.

Last night, Stanton launched two home runs to help power the Yankees to a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees improve to 25-10, matching Boston for the best record in the majors and they are tied atop the American League East standings. They have made up a 7 1/2 game deficit on Boston in less than three weeks.

Tuesday night was the Yankees' 16th victory in their last 17 games, the first time they have done that since 1953, when it was part of an elongated 21-1 stretch from May 27 to June 18  of that season.

It is not coincidental that it's because Stanton has gotten hot, as well as calling up top prospect second baseman Gleyber Torres on April 22, have sparked this team.

Stanton's two-home run game on Tuesday night, in which he hit one on a laser to left field down the line and the other to right field, was his third multi-homer game of the season.

The other two were opening day, March 29, in Toronto, and last Wednesday in Houston, a 4-0 Yankee win that was started by Luis Severino, who was also the starting pitcher on Tuesday against the Sox.

Stanton's three multi-home run games in the Yankees' first 35 team games of a season put him in some elite company, as he is just the fourth Yankee to achieve the feat.

The first three were Mickey Mantle in 1956, Roger Maris in 1960, and Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

All three of them went on to win the American League Most Valuable Player award, and in Mantle's case, 1956 was his Triple Crown season.

Stanton is no stranger to hardware, having won the National League MVP with Miami last season.

Stanton now has 31 multi-HR games in his career, and just the second to reach that mark in 1,021 games. The first to do it was the Pirates' Ralph Kiner, who had 35 multi-HR games to that point of his career. Kiner is known in New York mostly for being a legendary announcer for the Mets.

It is amazing that Stanton has seen the highs and lows of New York in his first six weeks in pinstripes, as he heard the boos on opening day and the games that followed, and now is getting standing ovations.

Stanton was hitting .212 on April 17, and has upped his average by 25 points to .237, with nine home runs and 21 RBI.

The biggest sign that Stanton is getting more comfortable is that his strikeouts are way down. He had 29 strikeouts in his first 16 games, and just 24 since then in 19 games. He was averaging nearly 2 K's a game in the first few weeks, marked by two games in which he had five strikeouts.

With Stanton's performance Tuesday night, in his first home game against the rival Red Sox, he is showing New York that he is made for this city.

The Yankees 25-10 start is one of the best in their history, and in the process they are putting themselves in the conversation with some of their the greatest players and teams.

Anytime you're compared to Mickey Mantle, as he and Gleyber Torres (youngest Yankee to hit a walk-off home run since The Mick) have this week, and doing things that haven't been done in 65 years, is a sign they will continue to make their mark on Yankee history.

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