Be careful out there. ‘Tis the season when you never know if a Giancarlo Stanton home run ball might come falling out of the sky.

The Miami Marlins right fielder went into Wednesday with five home runs in his last eight games. The Marlins won all but one of those, bringing themselves from well under .500 to a nice, respectable 13-12.

And against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park, more of the same happened. Stanton contributed a pair of RBI to back Jose Fernandez in the Marlins’ 4-3 win, pushing their hot streak to nine wins in 10 games. One of his steaks came on an RBI double. The other, naturally, came on a dinger.

Here, feast thine eyes:

Via Joe Frisaro of, Statcast tracked that ball at 111 miles per hour off the bat and measured its final resting place at 436 feet from home plate. In plain terms, it was your basic Stantonian dinger.

And he suddenly has a lot of those. The 26-year-old’s stretch of six home runs in his last nine games has bumped his total for the season up to nine, putting him behind only Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper and Trevor Story for the major league lead.

I just checked with Stanton’s reputation, and it confirmed this is about where he’s supposed to be. This is, after all, perhaps the only guy in Major League Baseball big enough to pass as a believable Chewbacca. Slightly more to the point, Stanton is also a guy who led the National League in home runs in 2014 and who is baseball’s best overall power hitter since 2011.

Of course, the power wasn’t there for Stanton in the first couple of weeks of 2016. He cranked only two home runs in his first 10 games, also posting a decidedly unimpressive slash line of .205/.319/.359. The Marlins were unable to pick him up, losing seven of those 10 games.

As such, Marlins manager Don Mattingly might have had the right idea for what was eating his resident obliterator of baseballs.

“Just pressing a little bit, I think,” Mattingly said before a mid-April game against the Washington Nationals, per Craig Davis of the Sun Sentinel. “He was really swinging the bat pretty good, and then all of a sudden the other night, he got out of sorts a little bit.”

It wasn’t just Stanton’s surface numbers that characterized him as a hitter who was out of sorts. He was striking out in 31.9 percent of his plate appearances in his first 10 games, a high mark even for a whiff-happy slugger like himself. He was also putting 52 percent of his batted balls on the ground, otherwise known as the last place power hitters ever want to put the ball.

But since then, things have been different.

Stanton broke out of his slump with a long ball April 18, which looks like the opening salvo for the stretch he’s in now. He’s hit .300/.417/.780 over his last 14 games and has corrected the two big problems plaguing him early on. He’s struck out 26.7 percent of the time, and his batted-ball profile now bears a much-closer resemblance to what it was like last season:

The ground ball-to-fly ball ratio Stanton posted last year was a career low, and it helped him hit 27 home runs in just 74 games. I wrote in March how this was a case of him going all-in on his god-like power potential and that he would be in for a career year in 2016 if he picked up where he left off.

It took a couple of weeks, but this is essentially what Stanton has done. If he keeps combining his immense natural power with a steady stream of balls in the air, only the injury bug may be able to prevent him from shattering his single-season high of 37 home runs.’s projection of 56 home runs, for example, could actually be doable.

And let’s not forget Stanton can do more than just hit dingers. He’s also traditionally rated as an above-average defender, and he showed with a nifty throw Wednesday he can still handle himself in right field.

“He’s a well-rounded player, not just a home run hitter,” Mattingly told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. “Everybody wants to [know] all about the home runs because it’s fun to see balls go that far. But from a manager’s standpoint, you like the fact he plays both sides.”

He’s right, and it should surprise nobody that the Marlins have been at their best when Stanton has been at his best. Even with his tremendous power and solid glove, they’re not one of the league’s more powerful teams or, according to Baseball Prospectus, one of the league’s more efficient defensive teams. Without Stanton propping up even one of those departments early on, the Marlins stumbled to a 5-11 start.

This is not to say the Marlins are going to continue winning games at a .900 clip for the rest of the season. That’s just silly, and the tough competition in the NL East and Dee Gordon’s lengthy absence aren’t going to help matters in the long run.

But anytime the Marlins have Stanton in a groove, they’re not going to be a fun team to play. And right now, he’s very much in a groove.


Stats courtesy of and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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