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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hall of Fame Hopefuls: Giancarlo Stanton

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Giancarlo Stanton is only 23 and has already become one of the top power hitters in baseball. Known for his prodigious blasts, the Marlins outfielder was an All-Star last season and led the league in slugging.

SUBWAY® is celebrating “The Boys in the Hall” and has asked us to write about Stanton’s Hall of Fame chances. Since we’re big believers in his ability, we were delighted to take on the project.

Stanton was drafted in the second round, No. 76 overall, by the Florida Marlins in 2007. He was just 17 at the time, and he even got 56 at-bats in the minor leagues after signing that season. The Marlins started Stanton at Single-A Greensboro the next year, and he played a full season for the team. It didn’t take long for him to show what he could do.

Stanton blasted 39 home runs to easily lead the South Atlantic League. His stellar .992 OPS also led the league, and his incredible show of power for an 18-year-old made it clear early on that he was on the fast-track to the bigs.

Stanton dominated in 50 games at high-A Jupiter the next year, but he struggled somewhat after being promoted to Double-A Jacksonville midway through the season. He hit 28 combined home runs in 2009. His average dropped and his strikeout totals went up after he was promoted. That all changed the next year.

At 20 and entering his third full season of professional baseball, Stanton crushed the ball his second time around in Double-A. He hit .312 with an amazing 21 home runs in 53 games. That was enough for the Marlins to know the slugger was ready for the big time. They called him up and he made his MLB on June 8, 2010, going 3-for-5 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Giancarlo Stanton Boys in the Hall

Stanton finished with 22 home runs and an impressive .833 OPS in 100 games as a rookie — all at age 20. He came into 2011 with high expectations and lived up to them. He improved his power and hit 34 home runs in 150 games while posting an .893 OPS. The team only went 72-90, but Stanton was its top player.

Giancarlo continued to improve his game in 2012. He also underwent a change, asking the media to begin calling him by his birth name — Giancarlo. Previously, he had gone by his middle name Mike throughout his career.

Stanton improved his average and power, made his first All-Star Game, and led the league with a .608 slugging percentage. He hit 37 home runs to place him second in the NL, which was even more impressive when you consider that he missed a month of the season because of knee surgery. He led the NL with a home run every 12.1 at-bats.

So what about Stanton’s Hall of Fame chances?

Boys in the Hall

The one thing to keep in mind about Stanton is how young he is. He was the third-youngest player in Marlins history to make his MLB debut for the team behind Edgar Renteria and Miguel Cabrera. He already has 93 career home runs in just 2.5 seasons. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that Stanton could reach the Hall of Fame.

Baseball-Reference lists 10 players most similar to him through the age of 22. Of the 10, two are in the Hall of Fame (Frank Robinson and Eddie Mathews), while a third will be there (Miguel Cabrera). Justin Upton is also on the list and, at 25, has a fair shot at putting together a Hall of Fame career. Some of the other players on the list are former MVPs Juan Gonzalez, Boog Powell, and Jose Canseco. That is some strong company.

I’d say right now that Stanton has a fair shot at the Hall, but that he probably projects to fall just short of it. What he needs to do is continue to improve as a hitter, take care of his body, and work on becoming a more complete hitter. Cutting down on the strikeouts and improving his average would go a long way towards improving his batting profile for Cooperstown. I’d put him at a 25 percent chance to make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

What we can say with 100 percent certainty is that Stanton has elite power that has rarely seen by the game. He broke the scoreboard at Marlins Park last year with a homer, and teammates say he has more power than Mark McGwire.

We also wanted to share a few other fun notes about Stanton. He was a three-sport star at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., excelling at basketball, football, and baseball (read this for more on his high school athletic career). He received a scholarship offer in basketball from UNLV, was set to accept a scholarship to USC for baseball, and he says he could have been a D-1 wide receiver in football. His quarterback at Notre Dame High School was the highly-recruited Dayne Crist, who went on to Notre Dame for college before transferring to Kansas.

Go here to see all the other Boys in the Hall celebrated by SUBWAY®.



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