As we approach the midpoint of the MLB season, it’s safe to say we’ve had some surprises. Some, like Albert Pujols, have been good; some, like Clayton Kershaw, have been not-so-good; and some, like Giancarlo Stanton . . . wait, Stanton hasn’t been a surprise. Stanton has been flat-out unbelievable.
The Miami right-fielder hit a 484-foot, two-run homer in a 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday. He has a major-league leading 26 homers on the season, not to mention 66 RBIs and a .343 OBP.
It’s amazing anyone still pitches to this guy.
“I think eventually he’s going to be one of those guys who gets walked a lot more than he does,” Bleacher Report national MLB columnist Scott Miller said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The only guy that hits them anywhere close to Giancarlo Stanton – and we haven’t seen him much because he just came up – is Texas’ prospect Joey Gallo. He’s a guy that hits monster home runs, too, but nobody – nobody right now – hits as far as Giancarlo Stanton.”
And the raw numbers only tell part of the story.
“We have to remember within those home run numbers, he is not playing within a hitter-friendly park down there in Miami,” Miller said. “There’s some long fences down there, but Stanton is one of those guys that can hit it out of the Grand Canyon. His power is unbelievable.”
Pujols, meanwhile, is having quite a season himself. In fact, he leads the American League with 23 home runs – he’s the only AL player with at least 20 – and has the Angels (36-36) within striking distance in the AL West. Pujols is on pace to more than double his home run total from the last two seasons combined (45).
Not bad for a 35-year-old.
“I think part of it is he’s as heathy as he’s been in a couple of years,” Miller said. “I know this spring he felt great because a year ago he was coming into the season having had a knee surgery, and as a result, he didn’t do his regular winter workouts. So a year ago, he was just kind of tentatively coming into the season. Well, now he’s more than a year removed from the knee surgery, and he’s got two good wheels under him right now. He was talking about that this spring, about how good he felt, and I think we’re seeing that manifest itself right now because the home runs – he’s just unconscious.”
Moving to the mound, Kershaw has been very un-Kershaw-like this season. The three-time Cy Young winner is 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA and has given up four home runs in his last three starts.
The guy just doesn’t look right.
“No, he doesn’t,” Miller said. “And there have been people that wondered if he was hurt, but everybody in Los Angeles says ‘No, no, he’s fine.’ He’s just not been able to hit his locations and his spots this year. Whether he’s a little bit off mechanically or exactly what it is, that’s one of the big mysteries of the game this season. There’s no question. This guy a year ago, he was not only the Cy Young winner, but he was the Most Valuable Player in the National League. This guy is just off the charts. The last three years, he’s been barely human. This year, he’s human. He’s still a very, very good pitcher. His numbers for anybody else would be good. But (based on) what we’re accustomed to, you look at the numbers and you’re like, ‘Geez, what’s wrong with this guy?’”