The Miami Marlins' talent exodus reached laughable heights this offseason, but even with Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle playing above the border, there's still one reason to tune on the Marlins every night: Giancarlo Stanton.
While the 6'5", 248-pounder can't replace the 230 career wins left behind by Johnson and Buehrle, the 23-year-old slugger can mash home runs unlike any other young star in the game.
And if anything causes fans to stay glued to baseball, it's the long ball.
Whether it was the epic 1998 chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa or the record-breaking season by Barry Bonds in 2001, there's nothing quite like the allure of the home run.
After just three seasons in the league, one thing is clear about Stanton—the kid can flat out rake.
He's not going to fool anyone into thinking he's a five-tool player.
But he doesn't have to.
No one's going to lose sleep over his 16 stolen bases or 432 strikeouts in 373 career games; that's not why Marlins fans, scouts and general managers around the league lust over the rising superstar.
It's his bat.
The California native is an absolute animal at the dish, mashing homers at an ever-improving rate.
The scary part is, he's getting better.
Since breaking into the lineup as a 20-year-old in 2010, Stanton displayed rare power. In just 100 games he smashed 22 homers to go along with 21 doubles in just 359 at-bats.
The following year he improved to 34 homers and 30 doubles in 516 at-bats, while drawing 70 walks and posting a wins-above-replacement mark of 3.4.
However, the All-Star outfielder turned in his best season in 2012. In just 123 games, Stanton hit .290 with 37 home runs, 86 RBI and posted a 5.4 WAR—good for 10th in the National League.
According to FanGraphs.com, the towering slugger has increased his isolated power (which subtracts a player's batting average from his slugging percentage) every year he's been in the big leagues. As a rookie he posted an ISO of .248, but that number jumped .275 in 2011 and topped out at a league-best .318 last season.
Only Josh Hamilton (.292) was even remotely close to the developing slugger, who is also an adept outfielder, finishing 13th among all outfielders in Ultimate Zone Rating, according to FanGraphs.
As Stanton continues to refine his approach at the plate and cut down on his strikeouts, he's only going to ascend. He's on the cusp of superstardom, and at just 23, he's already one of the premier outfielders in the game.
Stanton's opportunities may be limited with a weak lineup around him, but the slugger is capable of putting on a show any night of the week.
You don't want to miss this one.
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