There is a myth in baseball stating that Giancarlo Stanton is a bad defensive outfielder, and that’s not true. In the last couple of years, there have been a couple of plays in which he hasn’t looked smooth out there, but the numbers say he is actually a serviceable left fielder, and the New York Yankees plan on sending him to cover the position from time to time in 2022.
Last year, Stanton played 199.2 innings in the outfield and had a -1 OAA (Outs Above Average), 0 DRS, and a +0.6 UZR/150. He wasn’t a star, but he was far from the liability many people think he is with a glove in his hand.
As Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone acknowledged to SI.com on Thursday, the team intends to use Stanton as an outfielder occasionally because it offers added flexibility at the time of building the lineup.
There will be 28-man rosters until May 2, but after that, the Yankees will probably deploy Stanton in the outfield at least twice a week because the roster size will be decreased again.
The 32-year-old Stanton is prone to suffering lower body injuries, so the Yankees probably won’t push it too much and play him in the outfield full-time; but it’s good to know he can handle corner outfield duties at least occasionally.
The Yankees were happy with Stanton in the outfield last year
“It was successful last year,” Boone said. “Last year at this time, we were coming off two seasons where he lost a ton of time to injury. So there was that hesitancy or maybe reluctancy to push forward with it. But having the kind of year he did last year, feeling like he thrived not only performance-wise, but physically in the second half of the season by being out there in the field more, certainly his desire to do it, him coming in in good physical condition, and then just what it means for our team and kind of helping out everyone else, it’s something I’m glad we have in play now.”
Since his first outfield appearance on July 30, Stanton slashed.297/.357/.609 with 19 homers and 51 RBI, so playing the field clearly helps him stay focused and locked-in.
“You always want to be your best in the box and feel like you’re in the best mind frame,” the Yankees slugger said last August. “But that also means turning it off for a second and using that focus somewhere else. So yeah, being out there… it helps in some way.”
This spring, Stanton said that “I enjoyed it. It kept me moving around. It wasn’t the stop-start routine of DH-ing.”
“A couple times a week is good,” he said of playing the outfield.