Fantasy Baseball

In Defense of Giancarlo Stanton

Annually, Giancarlo Stanton has enticed fantasy owners with his prodigious power and potential.  However, often, it has been just that…  Potential.  Stanton’s career high for homers in a season sits at 37, which he reached twice in 2012 and 2014.  Annually, he is projected for 40 home runs by pundits and usually, his pace stats support that projection.  The issue, however, is that Stanton has been prevented from reaching those goals annually because of injury.  Stanton has played in 150 games once in his career and that was back in 2011.  Since becoming a full-time player, Stanton has averaged 121 games per season.

After missing 43 games last year, the fantasy community has finally stopped drafting Giancarlo Stanton as a first rounder.  This year, Stanton is the 39th player in average ADP (39.35).  This ADP would put him somewhere between the top and middle of the fourth round in 12 team mixed leagues.

Personally, I have annually avoided Stanton for a number of reasons, which was headlined by the injury risk.  The other factors are the average risk (the career 28.5% K rate, career average .266), the imperfect ballpark fit (Miami suppresses right handed power with an 87 Park Factor according to Baseball Prospectus) and at times, a lack of supporting cast (which has since been addressed).   Frankly, in the past, the price was simply too rich for an injury-prone player, who was only a two category stud (HR, RBI) when healthy.

Now with an ADP well outside the first round, I am extremely intrigued by the upside of Stanton.  However, I am not going to make the case that Stanton could hit 40 or 50 homers, if he stays healthy for 150+ games.  I think everyone is well aware that Stanton’s power upside is humongous.  The case that I am going to make is that 120 games of Stanton plus 40 games of another player will be more than sufficient to return fourth round value.  Put another way, I am going to tell you why Stanton in the fourth is a nominal-loss proposition even if he misses significant time.

Let’s take Steamer’s projection for Stanton – 128 GP, 36 HR, 80 R, 95 RBI, 3 SB .269/.364/.559.  Steamer is notoriously conservative, but it certainly sees the potential for Stanton in an abbreviated sample.  This is comparable to what Yoenis Cespedes gave fantasy owners in approximately 132 games last year (albeit with about 20 batting average points).  Last year, Cespedes was the 104th player on the ESPN player rater.

So we have 34 games, or approximately 20% of the season, with which to get Stanton approximately 50 spots higher.  While that does not return exact value, it is negligible enough that most owners would take it for the potential that Stanton does indeed play nearly 150 or so games.

Part of the beauty of this exercise is that there are multiple paths on which an owner can choose to travel.  You can boost Stanton’s speed number by supplementing that total with a stolen base threat.  You can opt for an-all around player, a power threat, a lead-off guy, etc.

Let’s look at a couple of examples and see how it would affect Stanton’s numbers:

A. Continued Power

Eric Thames (52nd OF, 225.89) – This is an ideal scenario because Thames brings so much upside himself that he could turn into asset entirely separate and apart from Stanton.  However, strictly as a Stanton replacement, Thames’s Steamer projection prorated over 34 games equals:

34 GP, 7 HR, 18 R, 20 RBI, 3 SB .272/.349/.512

This would provide owners with a full-season line of approximately: 43 HR, 98 R, 115 RBI, 6 SB .270/.360/.550

This line is a little better than Edwin Encarnacion’s line in 2016, when he ranked out as the 50th overall player.

B. All Around Production

David Peralta (67th OF, .278.4) – Peralta is coming off an injury-plagued year and going at a very reduced cost.  He will likely provide a little bit of everything and help bring Stanton’s average up over 34 games (to the extent batting average can be predictable over a 34 game sample).  Peralta’s Steamer projection prorated to 34 games would equal:

34 GP, 4 HR, 17 R, 18 RBI, 2 SB .273/.327/.447

This is a somewhat lesser version of what Thames gave you.  I would take issue with Steamer’s projection with respect batting average and the walk rate, but that is another argument for another day.

With Peralta, the full-season line becomes approximately: 40 HR, 97 R, 113 RBI, 5 SB .270/.355/.530.  Once again, this compares favorably with the line posted by Edwin Encarnacion last year.

C. Speed 

Manny Margot (61st, 266) – Margot is projected by some to start the season with Padres.  Steamer is a bit more conservative giving him approximately 5/8ths of the season – 99 games.  However, once he comes up, he is expected to run quite a bit for a bad Padres team. Margot would add the following statistics to Stanton’s line in a 34 game sample:

34 GP, 2 HR, 14 R, 12 RBI, 6 SB .259/.302/.372.

This is likely the worst of the three considering the projected drag on the triple-slash, but it is useful to see how the increase in speed would affect the full-season line.  With Margot’s contribution, the full-season line becomes: 38 HR, 94 R, 107 RBI, 9 SB, .266/.340/.535.  Once again, this compares favorably with the line that Edwin Encarnacion posted in 2016, which was the 50th overall player.

Now, admittedly, this is an imperfect science.  We cannot simply say Giancarlo Stanton will play 128 games because of the projection.  Nor can we anticipate that any player, which supplements Giancarlo Stanton will provide an exact pro rata portion of their production when he is out.

However, the exercise was meant to show that Stanton’s floor might not be as low as it seems.  In most formats, if/when Stanton gets hurt, you don’t get stuck with perpetual zeroes.  You replace him and you should factor that potential replacement into your analysis of his worth.  Plus, maybe, just maybe, he does stay healthy and then you have a monster and first round value in the fourth round.

 

 

 

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