Since his embarrassing first round loss to Gary Sanchez in the Home Run Derby, the Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton is putting up historic numbers. San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said “He’s a hot hitter; I mean, not just a hot hitter. We’re talking en fuego with the long ball.” It’s clear that Stanton is doing something right.
Since the All-Star Break, the “Four-Bagger with Swagger,” a nickname given to Stanton in a recent T-Mobile and MLB Network commercial, has hit 17 home runs. He’s only played 29 games (out of 30) since the All-Star Game came to Miami on July 11, so that means he’s hitting about 0.59 home runs per game (post-ASG). Barry Bonds, in his record setting 2001 season, hit 73 home runs in 153 games, which only averages out to 0.48 home runs per game.
If he plays 97% (29 out of 30) of the remaining 45 games, he’ll play between 43 and 44 games. That means that if he keeps his home runs per game average of about 0.59 and he plays 97% of the remaining regular season games, he should finish with 26 more homers. That comes out to about a season total of 69 homers (26 homers pre-ASG)
Other factors that we aren’t taking into account are, is his stamina going to stay at a good level for the rest of the year?, what teams will he face? and if he faces good teams, are they going to only be playing lower levels players since they’ve already assured a playoff spot? If Stanton gets injured or this season just takes a toll on his body, his skill will decrease by game 162, if he faces a good team, he’ll have difficulty hitting the ball over the deep Miami fences, if he faces poor pitching, his numbers may increase.
That last before-mentioned factor, “If he faces good teams, are they going to only be playing lower levels players since they’ve already assured a playoff spot?” brings up the matter that good teams may use poor pitching. In 2011, the Boston Red Sox needed the powerful New York Yankees to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, who the Sox were fighting for the Wild Card spot (pre-Wild Card Game era), but the Yankees did not want to risk injuring their stars in Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia and Mark Texeira, so they ended the game with their inexperienced prospects.
The Rays took advantage of New York’s lack of ability and won the game and the playoff spot over Boston. The Tampa comeback started in the bottom of the ninth when the Yankees were up 7-6 and Tampa’s backup first baseman, Dan Johnson, hit a two-out, solo, pinch-hit, game-tying home run off of Cory Wade in the bottom of the ninth. The Rays won the game and the Wild Card when Evan Longoria hit a walk-off in the bottom of the 12th for an 8-7 final.
That game is an example of how teams that have already clinched their playoff position don’t want to injure their stars down the stretch of the regular season, so they play the men who are in the majors thanks to the 40-man roster.
MLB.com analysts believe that these hypotheticals, the level of play, injuries, how many games he plays and his home run average, will add up to Stanton finishing the 2017 regular season with 60 home runs. That means that he will tie Babe Ruth’s 1927 record and become second on the list of players to hit homers in a single season without the suspected use of steroids, assuming there’s no foul play on the right fielder’s side, behind Roger Maris’s 1961 record of 61.