Monday, August 22, 2011
Mike Stanton's impressive season
By David Schoenfield
While Dayn Perry had an ESPN Insider piece today chronicling Jayson Heyward's disappointing second season, Mike Stanton has quietly been a star for the Marlins. Like Heyward, he's just 21, but he's second in the NL in home runs with 30. He's increased his walk rate from his rookie season while dropping his strikeout. While that hasn't shown up in a better batting average, it's a good sign for the future.
Stanton is already one of just 15 players to hit 30 home runs a season during his age-21 season (or younger). Not surprisingly, it's an impressive list: Eddie Mathews, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Hal Trosky, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Canseco, Bob Horner, Tony Conigliaro, Andruw Jones, Ted Williams and Ruben Sierra.
Stanton is on pace for 173 strikeouts and 69 walks in 543 at-bats. While the walk rate is good, the strikeout rate is still high, and maybe has you thinking that he's more Andruw Jones or Ruben Sierra than Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez. While he's not as polished as those latter two hitters, he does remind of a young Cabrera, who had 148 strikeouts and 68 walks in his age-21 season. It's been a disappointing season for the Marlins, especially considering they were 31-22 through the end of May and just two games out in the NL East. They're 26-48 since then, but don't blame Stanton.
As for the above list, the one player you may not be familiar with is Hal Trosky, who hit .330 with 35 home runs and 142 RBIs as a rookie with the Indians in 1934. Yes, these were the hard-hitting 1930s, but those were still impressive numbers for the era. Two years later, he hit .343 with 42 home runs and a league-leading 162 RBIs. So what happened? Migraines. Trosky began suffering from severe headaches and would retire after the 1941 season. Declared "4-F" by the Army, he would return in 1944 and try one final comeback in 1946, but he was never the same.
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.