Here’s a comparison no one wants to make:
Giancarlo Michael Cruz-Stanton: 81 PA, .230/.284/.351, .292 wOBA
Cameron Maybin: 201 PA, .225/.290/.341, .287 wOBA
Sadly, the early line for Mike Stanton bears a strong resemblance to the putrid line Cameron Maybin put up in his time as a starting outfielder for the Fish this season. For those of you who thought that Stanton would save the team, that was likely not going to happen, even without the early struggle. But for those of us expecting something more tempered, you have to be a little surprised with such tepid results.
One of the things that come to mind with this comparison between Stanton and Maybin is that they both share a common problem: both strike out a lot. Stanton’s issues with the strikeout are well documented, and we know that a big problem with Cameron Maybin’s game is the fact that his strikeouts really take a toll on the quality of the rest of his game. As mentioned before, strikeouts are not bad in and of themselves, but they do necessitate that a player excel in other aspects of his game. Players who strike out a lot have to have high BABIP, high walk rates, and/or a lot of power to compensate for the strikeout totals and the subsequent low batting average.
The issue with Maybin is that he never showed that he could excel in those other areas. Maybin could have a high BABIP given his speed, but that needs to be paired with good walk rates or power as well. Maybin has been a bit below average at walking for his career, and he has not flashed any power either. As a result, Maybin has spent 400 PA with the Marlins and has been worth nine park-adjusted runs below average.
Stanton, on the other hand, promised to have one aspect of his game compensate for his high strikeout rate. Coming into 2010, we all knew Stanton had monstrous power, but his Double-A campaign took that to another level. However, as amazing a season as it was, the jump from Double-A to the majors is still a large one to make. Stanton’s move to the majors has not been as advertised, and the lack of power is part of the reason why. In those 81 PA, Stanton has hit two home runs, with a fair 12.5% HR/FB ratio. He probably has better power than that, but he has yet to show it.
Part of the reason may be that he has not lifted a lot of balls in the air. Stanton has hit 47.7% of his balls in play on the ground so far this year, leaving just 52.3% of those BIP going through the air. Generally speaking, it’s hard to get a lot of slugging when you are keeping it on the ground; the league is slugging just .250 off a .231 batting average on ground balls this year. This may be indicative of Stanton making “poor contact” as a part of his struggles in pitch recognition, or it could be a blip in the statistical radar. Either way, one likely way to solve the power outage is to lift the ball in the air a bit more.
No one should expect Stanton to make the major league transition without some struggle, especially given his known difficulty with strikeouts. As with Maybin, we should exhibit patience. Stanton has the ability to overcome his problems, but putting undue pressure on him probably won’t help. At this point, the Marlins should allow him consistent playing time at some level, whether that be the majors or Triple-A.