2015 ZiPS Projections: Giancarlo Stanton
One of the keys for the Miami Marlins to stay above water in 2015 will be the health and production of star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.
The Marlins surprised some people last year by finishing 77-85 and being in the Wild Card discussion until the last few weeks of the season. Not coincidentally, their season seemed to fizz out right when Stanton was hit in the face by a pitch in Milwaukee on September 11, ending his season.
Stanton had been healthy and playing at a high level all year until that incident. It would have been his first full season played without injury since his 2011, after suffering knee injuries in 2012 and 2013. He still amassed 500 plate appearances in both seasons, but the team was definitely impacted with their best hitter out for some time.
He was still a six-win player in 2014, slashing .288/.395/.555 with a MLB-best 37 home runs, 160 OPS+ and 159 wRC+ in 638 PA. He earned his second All-Star appearance and participated of course in the Home Run Derby.
In 2015, the Marlins will need a full season of the same Giancarlo Stanton they saw last year. You may remember the 13-year, $325 million contract he signed in November – the richest and longest contract in North American sports history – so the expectations are there.
ZiPS projects Stanton to collect even fewer PA than he had last year, 614. It projects a .274/.373/.552/.389 wOBA with a 12.7 BB%, 27.7 K% and .278 ISO. ZiPS gives Stanton an identical output from 2014: 37, which ties his career high (he also hit 37 in 2012.)
It projects a 5.4 zWAR for Stanton, so almost a full win less than he was worth last year in a couple dozen fewer PA.
The number that stands out to me most is the OBP. Stanton posted identical 14.7 BB% the last two seasons, during which time he didn’t have many threatening bats behind him in the lineup. With potentially Michael Morse, Marcell Ozuna and Martin Prado lurking behind him this season, it makes sense that he would see fewer pitches to swing at but also fewer intentional walks. Stanton strikes out 28.1% for his career, and swings often at pitches out of the zone. So the projected 40 point drop in his on-base makes sense.
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His other numbers project to remain largely static. He enjoyed a .353 BABIP in 2014, which is expected to level a bit to .332, bringing his average down to a more realistic-seeming .274. Such is the life of a baseball player; even an MVP-caliber slugger like Stanton will have line drives find gloves sometimes.
If Stanton can stay healthy for a full 650 PA next year, he will easily put up at least five or six WAR and keep the Marlins’ outstanding outfield anchored. The team will rely also on Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna to produce like they did in 2014.
In the coming days, we will take a look at other Marlins players projections and see if they should be able to match their outputs from a year ago. For the new and improved Marlins to contend in 2015, they will need repeat performances, and then some.
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