Giancarlo Stanton: Missing in Action yet not forgotten

Giancarlo Stanton has 27 home runs and 67 RBI. Oh, by the way he hasn’t played baseball this season since June 26th. Stanton is sex, guns, and rock n’ roll all rolled into one magnificent baseball specimen. His recovery from hand surgery is going slower than expected and while he is missing in action, his bat is still revered around baseball.

He is the one of the few baseball players in the world who can grab onto and sustain anyone’s attention, baseball fan or not. He’s not a throwback stallion, but he’s definitely a breed of hit the baseball as hard as you can and worry about my ISO later. The only reason someone would not know about the man is due to the decrepit team he earns a living playing for, The Miami Marlins. This is a team that can not fill its massive new stadium for its own life. One would think that when Lebron James left Miami, the city and state would belong to Stanton. He’s got the body of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, swings a baseball bat like Marvel’s Thor and has the magnetic smile and charisma of Derek Jeter. His appeal can be explained in “Alexander Ovechkin terms”. He’s an action star rolled into a rock n’ roll concert on a diamond.

At the heart of this game is a simple appeal. The allure of the home run and how far a human being can hit it.

In a day and age where drug testing and performance enhancing drugs are slowly becoming a thing of the past, Stanton’s strength at the plate is even more impressive. There is a huge drop in slugging and power across the Major Leagues with an army of noble pitchers shutting down our mightiest hitters. Stanton defies the common trend with his ability to hit baseballs at high speeds of 115 miles per hour and tape measure shots that make one think of a hybrid of Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols.

Stanton isn’t paid to hit for average or go first to third on a single. He’s paid to launch the baseball, as his 181 career home runs and .547 slugging percentage suggest.

Stanton is action personified and well paid for his services. While he makes a modest 6.5 million this season, soon enough he will be among the highest paid players in the game. He signed a 13 year, 325 million dollar extension that keeps him in Miami until his late 30’s. Stanton is the Marlins renegade kid, a 25 year old with an appeal that can stretch across the world. The height of his contract will pay Stanton 32 million in two seasons but the average annual salary is 25 million. The key part of the deal is that Stanton can opt out after the 2020 season, five years into the contract. If the Marlins aren’t winning by then, Stanton may want to pack his cash and grab his boom stick and take his talents elsewhere. The intrigue exists there.

For now, appreciate what Stanton can do on a daily basis at any given time. He hits baseball a long way, earning the rewards of a soundtrack compiling the greatest hits of sports commentators’ jaws dropping across the country. He’s also not bad with the glove, as we saw in May when he went slamming into the outfield fence to rob Josh Harrison of extra bases.

Stanton does this for a living. Admire the swing, follow through and the general demolition of a baseball. You may want to say a prayer for future baseballs that will be thrown towards Stanton’s bat in the near future. Notice the way the ball leaves the stadium.

Stanton hasn’t had a rosy time at the plate. In August of last season, he was drilled in the cheek by a high inside fastball from Mike Fiers that required surgery and robbed him of a potential MVP. The Marlins fell apart and their wildcard hopes were dashed with Stanton’s injury. These days, Stanton wears a protective mask on the right side of his helmet that protects the front side of his face while at the plate. People thought it would hinder him at the plate and the early power stats suggest otherwise. It appears nothing can stop Stanton right now.

The man who once called himself Mike Stanton is obliterating baseballs and unlike other sports that involve violent contact between human bodies, Giancarlo’s destruction doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth long after the highlight reel is over. He is old school and new testament at the same time. Everybody loves a pitcher who throws hard. Everybody can appreciate a hitter who can send the baseball a long way.

No matter which jersey he dons in a few years, Giancarlo Stanton will always command your attention. He may be missing in action right now but that doesn’t mean he is anywhere near forgotten.

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