NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Aaron Boone has no problem coming to the defense of Giancarlo Stanton, whose first season with the Yankees didn’t quite live up to its advanced billing.
The second-year manager went to bat for the superstar slugger on Monday at the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Florida, stating unequivocally that if it wasn’t for Stanton fighting through a nagging injury for a good part of the season, the Yankees may not have won 100 games or made the playoffs.
With the Yankees dealing with injuries to Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, it was a hobbled Stanton who fought threw a hamstring injury to try to carry the load.
“I think that’s one of those things we kind of loved about him last year: His ability to post when he wasn’t perfect. His commitment to (playing) when he wasn’t perfect, but good enough to go,” Boone said.
After an extremely slow start, Stanton ended up hitting .266 with 38 home runs and 100 RBIs. That would be considered a stellar season for most players, but it was looked at a disappointment by many Yankees fans, because of the insane numbers the 2017 NL MVP put up for Miami and his lofty contract, which will pay him $26 million in 2019.
Let’s face it, .281 with 59 homers and 132 RBIs would have been a tough act to follow with the Marlins, let alone switching leagues and playing in the most demanding baseball city on the planet.
But Stanton said he wasn’t going to let his injury prevent him from trying to earn the fans’ trust.
“That wasn’t the best for me, my hamstring, but I wasn’t worried about that,” Stanton said. “If I could go out and produce or help us the slightest bit I was going to be out there. But it was quite the factor.”
Boone said he thinks Stanton could put up monster stats, because he’s more comfortable in his surroundings and has more knowledge of American League pitchers.
“One of the things with Giancarlo that we noticed, as we dug into things, especially (something) we were aware of last year, the more he sees a pitcher, he’s one of those guys that really benefits from that,” Boone said. “He gets pretty significant spikes across the board, more so than your normal person.
“As a hitter, the more you can see a pitcher, it helps the hitter a little more than a pitcher. In Giancarlo’s case, that’s proven out over the years,” Boone added. “Hopefully, just being more comfortable in the league — in the American League East again — I think that will be something that should help.”
“Got one year in the division, in the league under my belt,” Stanton said. “Things are more comfortable now in terms of facing some of these guys and teams again more often.”
He said despite the difficulties he endured during his first season with the Yankees, he was thankful to be on a team capable of going far in the playoffs, something he never experienced during his first eight seasons with the Marlins.
“It’s different coming in when you lose three in a row [with a losing team] and it doesn’t really matter, then you lose three in a row [with a winning team] and something’s got to pop off. That’s really the difference,” Stanton said.