Different Ways To Look at Giancarlo Stanton's Yankees Career


Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton has not measured up to expectations in the Bronx.Photo byDR. Buddie, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

By Paul Semendinger, Ed.D.

When one looks at Giancarlo Stanton's Yankees career, there is a great deal to examine.  There is the good and there is not so good.  There have been times when Giancarlo Stanton has been amazing - and there have been times when, well... he hasn't been.

When one looks at the Yankees career (to date) of Giancarlo Stanton, a number of different arguments can be made, all logical and all based upon statistics and data.

In a way, the way one looks at Giancarlo Stanton might be the way one looks at the Yankees, baseball, or statistics in general.  There is so much to unpack that it becomes a challenge to even place it all in the context of an article.  

But I'll try.

Giancarlo Stanton, first and foremost, is a slugger; a big-time hitter.  And, for the Yankees, he has lived up that billing. Giancarlo Stanton's OPS+ over the course of his Yankees career is 129.  In four of his five seasons as a Yankee, his OPS+ has actually been over 130.  His overall total is brought down only by his poor (for his standards, at least) OPS+ of 113 in 2022.  Heading into last season, his OPS+ as a Yankee was 134.  

If one were to look at OPS+, a conclusion can be drawn that Giancarlo Stanton has been a very productive slugger for the Yankees, year-in-and-year-out.

But, alas(!), OPS+ doesn't tell the full story.  (No statistic does, of course.)

WAR is a statistic that is often used to determine a player's worth.  In many ways, WAR is the new industry standard.  If a player has a positive WAR, he had a good year.  The higher the WAR, of course, the better the player was. If we look at Giancarlo Stanton's career, we can see that he has had a positive WAR as a Yankee.  Over five seasons, Stanton's total Baseball-Reference WAR in New York has been 9.1.  Nice.

Or is it?

When one looks more closely, it is clear that Giancarlo Stanton, for all the slugging he does, has averaged less than 2.0 WAR per season.  That is positive production, but averaging 1.82 WAR each season isn't necessarily impressive - especially for a player who is supposed to be a middle-of-the-order hitter and a slugger who should be helping to lead the Yankees to the championship each year.

In fact, based on WAR, Giancarlo Stanton has basically had two good years as a Yankee and three seasons where he has been only slightly better than an average player.  Breaking Stanton's yearly WAR totals shows this clearly:

  • 2018 = 4.4 (a very good year)
  • 2019 = 0.4 (not so much)
  • 2020 = 0.6
  • 2021 = 3.1
  • 2022 = 0.7

Looking at it this way shows that, in three of his five seasons as a Yankee, Giancarlo Stanton has been only slightly better than a replacement player.  Basically 82 per cent of his total accumulated WAR was earned in his two best seasons (2018 and 2021).  The other years, he just has not provided much value to the team.

So, while Stanton's OPS+ tells one story, his WAR tells a completely different one.

One reason that Giancarlo Stanton's WAR has been low might be the fact that he just does not stay healthy.  A great player is only great if he is on the field and producing.  And, unfortunately, Giancarlo Stanton just has not been a player who has been available for the Yankees on a regular basis.  The following are his games played per season in total and as a percentage of the total number of games played by the team that year:

  • 2018 - 158 games played (97.5%)
  • 2019 - 18 games played (11.1%)
  • 2020 - 23 games played (38.3%)
  • 2021 - 139 games played (85.8%)
  • 2022 - 110 games played (67.9%)

In total, over his Yankees career, Giancarlo Stanton has played in only 63.2 per cent of the Yankees' games.  That's not very good. Worse, when one absents his first season, since 2019, Giancarlo Stanton has played in only 53.1 per cent of all games played, or just over half of the games.  That is simply, not very good.

Because Stanton has missed so many games, it becomes difficult to look at his yearly totals for things such as home runs because the numbers are depressed.  Looking at his home runs on a yearly basis shows three solid years and two poor years (even adjusted for the shortened 2020 season):

  • 2018 = 38 homers
  • 2019 = 3 homers
  • 2020 = 4 homers (pro-rated to 6 based on a full season, with his games missed)
  • 2021 = 35 homers
  • 2022 = 31 homers

Runs Batted In provides another, less-than-great, story. Giancarlo Stanton has reached 100 RBIs once in his Yankees career (2018). He came close in 2021 (97), but otherwise, the numbers are not all that impressive (78 in 2022, 13 in 2019, 11 in 2020).  

Stanton's batting average has also been less than stellar.  Stanton has never even hit .275 in a full Yankees season.  In years where he has played in more than 50 per cent of the games, his batting averages have been:

  • 2018 = .266
  • 2021 = .273
  • 2022 = .211

For a player who was brought to the team as a superstar, his overall performance has been lacking.  

Adding to the overall lack of greatness has been the fact that he has not played the field well.  His overall Defensive WAR has been in negative figures in each season he's been a Yankee.  

Of course, for the Yankees, it is often about the post-season.  The question one might ask is "How has Stanton done in the post season?"  Supporters might note that he has hit .260 with 11 homers in 9 post season series.  Those are nice numbers.  But, when one looks closer, it becomes less impressive.  It is clear that in Wild Card games, Giancarlo Stanton is amazing (.429 with 4 homers in 4 games), but in the other series (.231, 7 homers in 6 games), he has been less so.  

In conclusion, one can look at Giancarlo Stanton's statistics as a Yankee and draw multiple conclusions.  For me, the numbers speak to a player who has vastly under-performed.  Stanton was brought to the Yankees to be great.  Overall, he hasn't been great.  In one season, his first, he was very good.  In the other seasons, he has mostly been a slightly better-than-average player when he has played, but the significant amount of games he has missed has also negatively impacted the team.  

Baseball Reference projects Giancarlo Stanton to hit .239/26/73 in 2023 as a 33-year-old ballplayer in 2023.  That feels just about correct.  Good, not great, and overall disappointing.  When the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton, they thought they were acquiring a superstar.  He hasn't been that.  The concern, going forward, is that Giancarlo Stanton, at 33 years old, is about to enter his decline years.  

As a Yankee, the past wasn't particularly great for Giancarlo Stanton.  I am concerned that his future will be even less so.  

Dr. Paul Semendinger is the author of The Least Among Them, Scattering the Ashes, and the soon-to-be-released From Compton to the Bronx, the autobiography of Yankees great Roy White.  Paul can be found on Twitter @DrPaulRSem.  He also runs the Yankees site Start Spreading the News.

Comments / 0

Published by

The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America represents hundreds of writers and content creators wherever baseball is played all over the world, ranging from hobbyists to professionals and everywhere in between. Learn more at ibwaa.com or follow @ibwaa on Twitter.

New York, NY

More from IBWAA

Comments / 0