Yankees’ slugger making some big changes in hopes of being more dynamic

MLB: New York Yankees at Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Giancarlo Stanton is entering this season in a position he’s never been in before, coming off a season where he didn’t perform and struggled to add any value to the Yankees. People forget his prime days with the Miami Marlins, where he was an excellent defender with great sprint speeds, with age and injury withering down his athleticism and mobility over the years. This past winter, however, seems to have been centered around restoring some of the lost movement and speed, as the slugger is looking noticeably leaner.

Reports have come out as Stanton has reported to camp and begun speaking to the media, mentioning that he added some more running and wants to “be a baseball player again.” In regards to his swing, he also added that there are changes on that front as well, and it’s clear that he’s focused on putting an ugly 2023 season behind him.

Giancarlo Stanton Could Be the Yankees’ X-Factor

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Sep 27, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (27) hits a two RBI single against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t good enough last season, posting a -0.8 fWAR with an 89 wRC+ across 101 games, creating a black hole in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup. Health and regression have hit the Yankees’ star slugger hard, and it’s created a myriad of questions regarding his long-term future in the Bronx. Jasson Dominguez exploded onto the scene last September and will aim to get his starting job back once he recovers from his UCL tear. The Yankees are expecting him to begin rehab games as soon as April, and that creates a roster crunch in their outfield.

In the farm system, the Yankees also have Spencer Jones, a left-handed outfielder with enormous potential due to his freakish physical tools. There’s a lot of pressure on Stanton to perform this season, and he’s responded with plenty of strides in the winter. He’s reporting to camp with a much leaner stature, focusing more on mobility and athleticism to try and provide more value in other areas, such as playing some corner outfield. It’s not as if he was in poor shape in years past, there are few players as well-built as Stanton, but perhaps the muscle made him more stiff and open to injury.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
Aug 18, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) stays on the field after an inning ending double play in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Few players are harsher critics of themselves than Giancarlo Stanton, who will have to show both fans and the organization that he’s not going to decline further. He has to improve exponentially over his 2023 season, as the team has far more outfield depth than in previous seasons. If this is an all-in year, as Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone have made evident, then they aren’t going to force themselves to play a struggling Stanton all season if more dynamic options emerge on the roster.

Part of the changes that he’ll make also include a change to his swing, which could help him get more batted balls in the air and avoid a putrid 12.5% line drive rate, which has tanked his ability to hit for average. Giancarlo Stanton has consistently been a .270-.280 hitter in his career, and while average isn’t a great metric for overall offensive contribution, it does play a huge role in your ability to get on-base, and Stanton has seen the OBP dip below .300 for two consecutive seasons now.

2024 is arguably the biggest season of Giancarlo Stanton’s career, and he seems up for the challenge of proving himself once again as a complete baseball player and not a one-dimensional one.

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