By Tommy Rancel //
Prior to the 2011 season, I wrote the following about Mike Stanton onthe Bloomberg Sports’ blog:
“With 30-plus home run power (35 projected by Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tool), the likelihood of an equal amount of doubles, and an increase in RBI opportunities, Stanton could be a fantastic power and RBI source in 2011. Set your target around the eighth round in a standard 12-team mixed-league, but if there is a sudden run on outfielders don’t be afraid to pull the trigger a round earlier.”
Stanton has lived up to those lofty expectations despite the fact he will not turn 22 for another two months. Perhaps the owner of the rawest power in the majors, Stanton has smashed 34 home runs in his first full season of play. In addition to the long balls, he has 27 doubles – and although he does not possess much speed – five triples. The 66 combined extra-base hits are the sixth most in the National League.
One knock on Stanton’s offensive game coming into the season was batting average. A free-swinging slugger like Stanton is not prone to hit for a high average. Not surprisingly, he has hit just .265 this season. Meanwhile, he showed improvement in his plate discipline; an encouraging sign moving forward.
Stanton struck out in more than 31% of his plate appearances as a rookie. He struck out in just over 27% of his PA this season; however, a four percent decrease is nothing to overlook. In addition to fewer punch-outs, he increased his walk total from under 9% to just over 11%. Because of his ability to take a free pass, he has maintained a healthy .357 on-base percentage despite the pedestrian average. He will still chase at pitches out of the zone, and does whiff quite a bit, but is headed in the right direction as far as rates go.
As we shift focus to the 2012 season, Stanton is a name you need to move near the top of your draft board. Because he doesn’t hit for a high average or steal many bases, he narrowly misses the top-tier of outfielders; however, his power is unquestioned and he can get on base in other ways even if he does not hit .280.
The one question mark for 2012 is Stanton’s home ballpark. The Marlins will open a new stadium next season, so we do not know what type of environment he is walking into. Meanwhile, his current home is a pitcher-friendly park and he had no problems clearing the walls on a regular basis. Stanton was drafted between rounds 8-10 this year. I may be bullish than others, but I’d bump him up at least two rounds going into 2012.
For more on Stanton and other Bloomberg Sports’ favorites, check out the Front Office tool