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Key Stats: 21 is my most favorite stat. I want you to keep this in mind throughout this article. The man that I am profiling just turned 21 years old. That said, here’s some more key stats.

Stanton’s 17 home runs in the second half of the season ties him for fifth most in baseball. If you total his minor league stats for each year and prorate it over the course of a 162 season, he would have averaged 44 home runs, 101 runs, and 120 rbis. If you prorate just his 2010 major league stint over 162 games, he would have had 36 home runs, 73 runs, 96 rbis.
Stanton’s 22 home runs in his age 20 season are incredible. His .248 ISO ranked him fifth among outfielders with at least 390 at bats. As Mike Axisa of Fangraphs pointed out, only nine players in major league history have had an ISO as high as his .248 in their age 20 season. Who are the rest? Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Bob Horner, and Frank Robinson. That’s neat.
Skeptics Say: If Stanton was 28 years old with these stats, he would be a sure fire first or second rounder – but he isn’t. He is only 21 and has only 396 at-bats under his belt. The unknown is a huge hangup with ranking him high because he is equally able to either lead the league in homers or finish the season in the minors.
One reason for a likely struggle is his inability to make contact. He swings at too many pitches outside the zone and makes little contact (13.1% below the 2010 league average). His zone contact rate was also 6.7% less than league average. All this equates to a 70.2% contact rate – which is terrible. Therefore, Stanton may be prone to going into prolonged slumps – like the 0 for 31 hitless skid he had last August.
Peer Comparison: Let’s compare Stanton to three other players’ 2010 seasons:
Player GB/FB HR/FB ISO OBP K% BB% BABIP AVG
Stanton 1.06 22.9% .248 .326 34.3% 10.1% .330 .259
A 0.83 15.3% .212 .353 26.7% 8.6% .334 .281
B 1.07 21.1% .229 .353 28.5% 9.5% .332 .276
C 0.66 19.4% .250 .323 34.8% 10.7% .288 .237
So let’s break this down. Stanton drives more balls out of the park while also putting more balls into play on the ground than A. Yet, Stanton’s higher GB/FB and BB rates relative to A as well as the similar BABIP does not equate to a higher batting average. Player A strikes out often, but not nearly as much as Stanton. Player A hits more fly balls, but also puts more balls into play which allow him to post a higher average (also worthy to note is that player A has a much better line drive rate). Player B suffered from a down but still productive 2010. He has similar stats all around to Stanton, but was able to strike out less. This led to a decrease in power but increase in average. Player C is obviously the worst of the 4, posting higher fly ball and strikeout rates than the rest which results in the lowest BABIP and batting average.
Stanton’s ability to put balls into play through means other than the fly ball allows him to maintain a higher BABIP despite his propensity to strikeout. Again, the big issue with Stanton is the unknown – is he a flyball hitter like Player C (career 0.63 GB/FB) or is he more like Player B (career 1.03 GB/FB)? Can Stanton maintain a high HR/FB rate like Player B (career 29.9 HR/FB) or will it fall more in line with Player A (career 17.1 HR/FB). It appears that the one thing keeping Stanton from becoming a player like C is his ability to hit more ground balls and line drives. If this ability depreciates in 2011, Stanton is going to have a stat line like Player C. If Stanton maintains his ability to hit ground balls and line drives while simultaneously maintaining or building upon his HR/FB rate, Stanton will be as good as player B. If Stanton’s HR/FB rate maintains sally while also maintaining a level GB/FB rate, he’ll be as good as player A.
And now the anticipated revealing of the players: A is Jay Bruce, B is Ryan Howard and C is Russell Branyan. Maintaining consistency in the drive and lift of Stanton’s swing is literally the most important thing to watch for in 2011 – a gentle tick downwards in his GB/FB could mean Stanton is barely rosterable. A sustainable GB/FB together with a decrease in his K rate means Stanton could be as strong a hitter as Howard is now in his age 30 season. More likely to happen in 2011 is that Stanton and Bruce share similar GB/FB rates while Stanton ekes out a higher HR/FB rate. However, in the long run, Stanton is more likely to develop and exceed Bruce.
Lineup Outlook: Stanton spent most of last year hitting 6th and 7th, moving up to 6th as the season wore on. Even with the loss of Uggla, I still foresee Stanton batting no higher than 6th. They may even opt to put Buck in front of Stanton, following Coughlan, Infante, Hanley, Morrison, and Sanchez (not in that order). Regardless, the 2011 Marlins, though not stellar and likely will not provide much protection to Stanton, he should have several high OBP guys in front of him to knock in.
What They’re Saying: Yahoo: #22 Outfielder & #84 Overall; CBS Sportsline: #34 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #91 Overall; John Halpin of Fox Sports: #89 Overall; RotoChamp: #125 Overall; Couch Managers: #21 Outfielder & #76 Overall

Projection: Stanton is not some mere fly ball hitting power guy like Branyan – whose career 62.9% contact rate is far worse than Stanton will be. He’s much, much more than that. In non-keeper leagues, I would not be drafting him anywhere near this high as his low contact rates and average speed will limit his ability to score runs and maintain a decent batting average. Instead, I’d draft him somewhere just ahead of Bruce (#66 according to FBHS). But let it be known – Stanton is one of the most powerful hitters in baseball at the age of 21 and is just a little progression away from being one of the best.

80 runs, 34 home runs, 95 RBI, 6 SB, .255 AVG, .845 OPS
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13 Responses to Mike Stanton Player Projection No. 34

  1. Brian says:

    I gotta go with Bruce over him. The point I makke in support of you is the missing power this year. I mean, who can get 40? Howard? This guy?

  2. KOBEshigawa says:

    I think it's ridiculous that we're ranking this guy so high. I just don't understand how we could rank him in the top 35, when noe one else in the fantasy baseball hemisphere is ranking him higher than #76 overall. Yes, I understand the metrics, but look at Hunter Pence's first 108 games. He stroked an .889 OPS and 17 homers. Hmm. Looks similar to an .833 OPS and 22 homers in 100 games. Where has Hunter Pence been since then? No knock on Pence, but he hasn't come close to matching that production in his first year, though he is a very good fantasy player (I think we got his ranking correct here on FBHS). This is not to say that Pence and Stanton are comparable players, because they aren't. But this is to say that a player can come out of the minors very highly hyped and then flame out because pitchers have 4 months to watch tape and discover how to pitch to them.

    Most importantly, I think it is a big big BIG mistake to put all your eggs in the basket of a 21 year old. To project that type of extrapolated performance off of 100 games is just not a good idea. I don't doubt that one day he'll be a productive, if not great player in the majors, but to say that he's going to be one of the best outfielders in all of baseball in his age 22 season, playing in that ballpark AND with all those expectations on him is foolish.

  3. Dave says:

    So who is the big Stanton proponent? Is it Mark? Great writeup btw guys.

  4. Schruender says:

    I'm a giant Stanton fan Dave.

    KOBE, the Pence comparison was a good call, but where I see two difference in the two players. The first is the type of prospects that they were. Stanton forced his way up to the big club at age 20 because he had hit 21 homers including some moon shots in just 51 games at AA. Pence was ready at age 24, and had similar minor league numbers to Stanton to back it up. At 20 and 24 though, there is clearly one player that has more room for growth.

    The second difference as you may note by his low combined games played in his rookie year, is the fracture to Pence's wrist. I think that injury had an impact on Pence's development that went beyond that year – similar to the way wrist injuries have effected Derrek Lee and Nomar Garciaparra. With the kind of first season Pence had, I probably would have ranked him this high too.

  5. Sean Herman says:

    KOBE, I'm glad you raised this issue. I think the baseball world could use more discussion on Stanton's immediate value.

    It's not uncommon for a player to be hyped up, fire right out of the gate, but fail to live up to the hype their second time around. So you're right to point out that adjustment is the most important thing to focus on. And Schruender rightly pointed out Stanton's continual domination of pitching at all levels. But outside Pence's age 22 year (39 homers), he never hit more than 28 in one year. This is only to say that Pence's one dominant year was not a true indication of his ability. So the hype that was placed upon Pence was a product of reliance on one flukish season. He has consistently hit 25 home runs each year since – this is not a failure of Pence to live up to his hype, but a realization that the hype was improperly placed upon him.

    Contrarily, the hype placed upon Stanton is rather well founded – as hopefully indicated above. Sure, Stanton is likely to struggle in his age 21 season as pitchers find better ways to pitch to him. That's why I said that in non-keeper leagues, he should be drafted 20-30 spots lower than where he's at here. That's also why I put him down as hitting only .255 with 34 home runs. This guy is 21 and is already in the tops of baseball in terms of power ability (not just power potential). If I knew this guy was a super intelligent work horse who already possessed Pujol's ability to adjust to pitching, then I would have him down for 45 home runs. But he's not there yet, so he should not be drafted in non-keeper leagues any higher than the 7th round. But in keeper leagues, this guy has to be a top priority.

  6. Dave says:

    Fantastic discussion. P.S., I hope the leg injury is not serious!

  7. Brian says:

    Makes sense, Stanton looks like a future star. I guess the caveat is the league you are in. I took Longo in the first before he was in the bigs and it's paid off, mostly.

    This year, he's Jay Bruce's second year. I predict some streakiness, so he could be playing with fire in a h2h, but better in roto. I love the dude long term as a baseball fan.

  8. Schruender says:

    As a baseball fan he's one of the reasons to get MLB TV on the computer or the cable package. I guess my position on Stanton is that I'm going all in on a flush draw, but there's so many chips on the table it's worth it.

  9. KOBEshigawa says:

    You are all fools! I would hate for Stanton to dissapoint so many fantasy owners and subscribers to the great knowledge of FBHS, but I can't wait to say I told you so.

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