Yankees’ $32 million outfielder dons the mantle of accountability amid performance woes

MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Yankees
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Yankees grapple with the absence of Aaron Judge in the daily lineup due to a torn ligament in his right big toe, the team finds itself in dire need of the best version of Giancarlo Stanton.

With Judge potentially missing the next few months or even the rest of the season in the worst-case scenario, the Yankees must keep winning to stay on track for the playoffs.

Giancarlo Stanton’s Stuttering Season So Far

Stanton’s performance this year has been far from consistent, hitting a paltry .121 with a .215 OBP in June alone. His slugging percentage stands at a mere .241 with a .457 OPS. Out of 58 at-bats, he has only managed two homers and has gone nine games without a single long ball – an unusual occurrence for the veteran outfielder.

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Taking Responsibility for Underperformance

Despite earning $32 million for the 2023 season, Stanton has been the subject of boos after each strikeout. Nevertheless, he seems unfazed by the negative attention, focusing instead on rectifying his underperformance.

“I have more things to care about than [the booing],” Stanton said. “And once I take care of that, everything else will resolve itself.”

For the year, the 33-year-old has an average of .191 with a .252 OBP, six homers, 14 RBIs, and a 73 wRC+. Stanton has a strikeout rate of 27.7%, below his career averages, but a career-low 5.9% walk rate with a -0.2 WAR.

Upsides Amid the Struggles

Interestingly, Stanton’s hard-hit rate is 54.5%, with a 15.6% barrel rate and an average exit velocity of 94 mph. These promising slugging metrics suggest he is maintaining some good form despite his struggles.

“Overall I have a good mindset, but at the same time (baseball) is what I work at it, it’s what I dedicate myself to,” Stanton stated. “It hasn’t been an enjoyable stretch.”

The Battle with Inconsistency

Stanton’s inconsistency seems rooted in his poor swing decisions, particularly in situations with runners in scoring position. Despite his past clutch factor, he is hitting .167 with a .259 OBP with RISP.

There are glimmers of hope, however. In a recent match against the Texas Rangers, Stanton managed a timely single that gave the Yankees a two-run lead late in the eighth inning. But such flashes of brilliance are not enough; he must strive for consistency, which in the past has been disrupted by health issues.

Looking Forward

Despite his current challenges, Stanton appears to be keeping his spirits high and maintaining his confidence. His power numbers are in a good state; he just needs to elevate the baseball and make solid contact. Much easier said than done, of course, but if anyone can turn a corner, it’s Stanton.

“I got a lot to do,” Stanton said. “I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do regardless of who’s on the field, regardless of anything. … It’s a results-based place. Just gotta figure out how to do it.”