Giancarlo Stanton, one of the most criticized athletes in New York, is looking like an All-Star once again.
In the Yankees’ 10-4 victory over the White Sox Friday night, Stanton went 2-for-4 with a homerun and two RBI. It was his 10th HR of the season and his third in the last three games.
Before Friday, in Stanton’s previous seven games, he batted .308, with five home runs, 14 RBI, and an .885 slugging percentage with an on-base percentage of .385. For the season, he’s hitting .277, with nine homers, 28 RBI, a .311 OBP, and a slugging percentage of .527.
Stanton made his MLB debut back in 2010 with the then-Florida Marlins and it was a complete success. During his eight years with the Marlins, he batted .268, with an on-base percentage of .360, and a slugging percentage of .554. Giancarlo, who went by Mike back then, was a four-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger winner, a two-time recipient of the Hank Aaron Award, and was named NL MVP after hitting 59 home runs and knocking in 132 RBI in 2017 — his final year with the team.
Stanton was traded to the Yankees in December of 2017 for Starling Castro, Jorge Guzman, and Jose Devers. This was the second time in MLB history that a player who hit at least 50 home runs would be traded the following offseason and it came just three years after he had signed a 13-year, $325 million extension.
Stanton’s first season with the Yankees was not awful by any means. He played in 158 games with a .266 average, 38 home runs, 100 RBI, a .343 OBP and a slugging percentage of .509. However, he drew a lot of criticism due to his 211 strikeouts — the most by a single player in Yankees history.
The 2019 and shortened 2020 season were not successful campaigns in any way. Stanton only played 41 games total due to several injuries. The fans were at the height of discontent with him at that point.
In 2021, Stanton missed some games due to injury, but not to the extent of 2019. In 2021, he played 139 games, he had 35 home runs and 97 RBI, but ended up striking out 157 times — again averaging more than one strikeout in every game he played in. Stanton has not earned a single honor during his four years in the Bronx.
Thes biggest criticism of Stanton has been his strikeouts. In every season he has played with the Yankees, he averaged more than one strikeout per game.
Yankees fans and media are arguing that his play has not matched the money the team is paying him but what they fail to realize is that this is not just a Stanton problem…
This is a baseball problem.
Baseball has been increasingly valuing the home run, and while home runs have been going up, so have strikeouts. Players around the Majors are essentially going all-or-nothing when up to bat. Expect strikeouts to be more and more common for everyone as long as this trend continues.
The Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball this season. Stanton is a big part of their success and he is definitely off to a great start.
The question is whether or not he can be consistent throughout the entire season, stay healthy, and be one of the best players in baseball… which is what Yankees fans and media were expecting when they traded for him.
Aaron Hicks is well aware of the situation in the Bronx.
Entering year three of a seven-year, $70 million-dollar extension and battling for playing time in an outfield full of sluggers, it’s time for the switch-hitting center fielder to become the consistent force the Yankees expected when he signed on that dotted line.
Finally healthy, Hicks, 32, knows exactly what will make him stand apart from the competition.
“There is something special about 30-30,” Hicks told reporters when asked about his goals this season. “For me, I want to steal more, and I feel like 30 home runs are reachable for me. Those two together are a dangerous pair. That’s definitely something that I would like to do.”
Hicks wants more moments like this…
And when it comes to the 30-30 club, Hicks is right. It’s one of the most revered in all of baseball, mainly because rarely do players possess the combination of speed and power to hit both plateaus.
If Hicks reaches his goal, he would be the oldest Yankee – and just the third in team history – to accomplish the feat. In 1975, the OG Bobby Bonds was the first to post a 30-30 season in pinstripes. Yankees’ fans would have to wait 27 years to see it again, when Alfonso Soriano joined the club in 2002 and 2003.
For Hicks, reaching this plateau would mean a career season.
In his best season to date, Hicks smacked 27 homers and swiped 11 bags. Now neither of those marks would qualify him for the 30/30 club, but Hicks isn’t discouraged by any means.
As a matter of fact, Hicks – who played only 32 games in 2021 after a wrist injury – has put in extra work over the offseason, including a trip to the Dominican Winter League.
“I got to work on a lot of things that you can’t really work on during the season, like hitting the other way,” said Hicks, who batted .250 (2-for-8) in the first three games of the 2022 season. “I made sure my first two at-bats, I was trying to do that. Stealing bases, I was 2-for-2 there.”
He even got engaged to his girlfriend Cheyenne Woods, the niece of golf legend Tiger Woods. They now share one child together.
They told GolfWeek that they first met when 31-year-old Woods interviewed Hicks for her podcast, “Birdies Not BS.”
Hicks is accomplishing so much growth in his personal life and expects that to translate to the field. Going 30-30 would put Hicks in elite company, not only in Yankees’ history, but history period.
Only 43 ballplayers in MLB history have joined the 30-30 Club —13 have done it multiple times — making it one of the smallest fraternities within the sport. Of those 43 players, 17 are Black. That’s about 41 PERCENT of all players to ever crack this list.
The Bonds household (Barry and Bobby) hold the record for most 30-30 seasons with five, while Hall of Famers and certified G.O.A.T.s Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are also part of this illustrious group. Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins was the latest MLBbro to make the club, doing so last season.
Hicks possesses all the tools. And now that he’s healthy, we will see if he’s given an opportunity to join this historic group.
After a career year in 2021, Aaron Judge is poised to become one of the highest-paid in the Majors.
It’s surprising Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman has not already handed the MLBbro a blank check by now. The slugger is entering the final year of his rookie deal and has already made it clear he has no plans to continue contract negotiations after his Opening Day deadline. While nobody expects the Yankees to let such a talent leave the Bronx, because he doesn’t have a deal, questions about him possibly playing his final Opening Day game at Yankee Stadium have to be asked.
“Yeah, you think about it,’’ Judge said of the possibility that he could be playing in his final Yankees’ opener. “But ultimately, it comes down to (the fact that) I’ve got games to win. It’s been a while since Yankee fans have held the championship in this city…So, I’ve got a job to do for them, to go out and win.’’
Judge has been the most valuable player for the Yankees since he was called up to the Majors in 2017. He was unanimously selected as the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year and led the Yankees to Game 7 of the ALCS in the same season.
Judge answered many critics in 2021, his best season since his rookie year. He silenced questions about whether or not he can stay healthy for an entire season – or if he could be more than just a power threat at the plate. A ,287 batting average and 39 homers answered those questions.
Judge led the Yankees in almost every offensive category last season: games played, hits, doubles, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and WAR – all while being one of the most underrated defensive players in the sport.
Judge, 29, should soon ink a deal that will make him one of the highest-paid outfielders in baseball. That’s if the new way of doing Yankees business doesn’t try to be cute with Judge’s cheddar.
If a deal isn’t reached, the Yankees and Judge will face arbitration this off-season. Judge and his Yankees open the season against the team that sent them on winter vacation last season – the Boston Red Sox.
So, the franchise should definitely want their best player to be focused on hitting the baseball and not worried about contract negotiations or even getting hurt before he can secure the bag.
Judge says he’s not that concerned, and everything will happen in due time.
“We’ll get there when we get there,’’ Judge told reporters on Tuesday. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees offered their slugger $17 million. However, Judge declined it, as he was seeking $21 million.
Judge Needs A Huge Pay Boost
According to the Indy Star, the highest paid outfielder in 2022 is the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, who will make more than $37 million. George Springer of the Houston Astros is second, at almost $30 million. Trout’s teammate, Justin Upton, is third on the list at $28 million. The Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper ($27.5 million) and the Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich ($26 million) round out the five highest paid outfielders for 2022.
20 outfielders will make $15 million or more this season. 10 will make $20 million or more. You can’t tell me there’s 10 outfielders in baseball better than Aaron Judge. There aren’t 10 better players. A $17M annual salary would be well below Judge’s market value, especially when you take into account that he’s the best player on the most storied franchise in baseball, jersey sales and all of the revenue the bug guy generates for the Yankees.
There are three MLBbros in the top 10 for highest-paid outfielders: Jason Heyward, former MVP Mookie Betts, and 32-year-old George Springer, whose six-year, $150-million deal with the Blue Jays last off-season made him the second highest-paid outfielder in all of baseball.
Judge will get his money eventually, but the Yankees sure are taking a long time to do right by their franchise player.