Saturday, June 22, 2024
spot_img

Is Giancarlo Stanton a Hall of Famer? What Yankees slugger still needs to do to reach Cooperstown

The Yankees beat the Mariners on Thursday afternoon, 5-0, on the strength of great pitching and solo homers from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Judge’s extended heater continues, but let’s latch onto the Stanton shot and his season — career, too! — as a whole. 

Here’s the prodigious blast: 

That was No. 12 on the season for Stanton and he’s now up to 27 RBI. 

More importantly, Stanton has been able to avoid the injured list this season. He’s now played in 45 of their 52 games. He appeared in 101 last year, 110 in 2022, 139 in 2021, only 23 of the 60 in 2020 and just 18 in 2019. It’s important to note all the injuries he’s had in those years, because Stanton was absolutely on a Hall of Fame track before that. 

Through 2018, Stanton had won an MVP and finished as the runner-up once. He was just finished with his age-28 season and had 305 homers with 772 RBI. With a player of his stature, you could argue he was roughly halfway through his career, so feel free to double those power numbers in your head. He was also sporting a career 144 OPS+ with 1,124 hits and 678 runs. He had led the league in slugging three times, home runs twice, RBI once, WAR once and total bases once. 

He looked like he would be a Hall of Famer at the time. 

And now? With everything we know that has happened since then? Is there a chance he still might salvage a decent Hall of Fame case? 

The home run on Thursday was the 414th of Stanton’s career. He’s up to 1,058 RBI and 1,495 hits. He’s signed through 2027. And despite all those aforementioned injuries that often kept him off the field, Stanton still hit 35 homers in 2021, 31 in 2022 and 24 in 2023. 

If you look at Stanton’s top-10 most similar statistical players through last season, it’s already an impressive group: Hall of Famers Willie Stargell, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey and Mike Schmidt. Mark McGwire is also there. 

Stanton’s a slugger and you could even argue that’s his last remaining skill. That’s where stuff like WAR will ding him. Sure enough, in looking at WAR/JAWS, Stanton currently shows well below the average Hall of Fame right fielder. He’s 38th in JAWS, sitting around the likes of Rocky Colavito and Rusty Staub, though also within very close range of Hall of Famers Kiki Cuyler, Harry Hooper and Tony Oliva while being ahead of Hall of Famers King Kelly and Sam Thompson. He’s far ahead of Harold Baines and Ross Youngs. 

Still, I’m less worried about this because I think the opening is just racking up the home runs. There’s realistically a very good shot Stanton tops 500 home runs. 

If we could all agree that the absolute best thing a hitter can do on a given plate appearance is hit a home run — and you’d be a fool to earnestly disagree — that’s where this avenue really carries heavy weight for Stanton.

Only 28 players in MLB history have ever reached 500 career home runs. Getting to 500 home runs alone used to be an automatic election line to the Hall of Fame. The only players there who haven’t been inducted either have PED ties (fair or not) or haven’t yet become eligible (Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols, and they’ll both get in with ease). 

There’s the issue of the watering down of the 500-home run mark to consider, but home runs have downturned since the so-called “Steroid Era.” A whopping 10 of the 28 500-HR hitters got to the threshold between McGwire (Aug. 5, 1999) and Gary Sheffield (April 17, 2009). Since then, we’ve only seen three (Pujols, David Ortiz and Cabrera) and Stanton is the active home run leader at 414. 

Basically, if you believe getting to 500 home runs as an accomplishment was cheapened, it was only really cheapened within the span of a decade. Things have gotten back to the level of sanity now. 

Further, Stanton has a chance to fly far enough past 500 to turn some heads. Frank Thomas, Ted Williams and McCovey are tied for 20th place with 521. It’s reasonable to believe Stanton gets past 521, right? He’s at 414 right now and averaged exactly 30 homers per season from 2021-23. He’s signed through 2027. He can get to 525ish. 

There’s also the whole “feel” argument. You know the one. “He just doesn’t feel like a Hall of Famer to me.” Well, sure, now he doesn’t. Do you remember Stanton from, say, 2012-18? The dude who averaged 45 homers and 113 RBI per 162 games who made a run at 60 in a season (falling one short in 2017, though winning MVP for a non-playoff team)? People applied the “one of the most feared sluggers in baseball” before, with Jim Rice being one of the easy examples. Stanton was absolutely one of the most feared sluggers in baseball for that period of time and there were several stretches where he was the most feared. 

Remember what a phenom he was at such a young age, too. 

Stanton ranks eighth in career homers through age 28, behind A-Rod, Ken Griffey Jr., Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Mathews, Mickey Mantle, Pujols and Mel Ott. That means he’s ahead of an awful lot of all-time great sluggers. 

Considering everything above, if Stanton ends up in 20th place all-time in home runs while having won an MVP and led the league in slugging three times and homers twice — in addition to having been appointment viewing as a feared slugger for a five-year span — shouldn’t he be a Hall of Famer? 

It sure feels like the answer to that question should be a yes. 

Of course, Stanton still has plenty of work to do and staying on the field is chief among the concerns. If he falls short of 500 homers, forget about it.  

So far in 2024, though, he seems to be on the right track and that is keeping his Hall of Fame chances alive, even if the case might actually be on life support. 

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles

Newsletter

Subscribe to stay updated.