Giancarlo Stanton, The Loneliest Slugger

The Marlins traded away a bunch of their players. They didn’t trade away Giancarlo Stanton, though, so someone will hit some home runs in Miami. Will he be the only one? The ZiPs projections for the Marlins came out last week and they suggest he’ll really be the only power source in Miami this year. It even looks like he could be legendarily lonely.

Projecting on the team level is difficult. ZiPs projects players based on their talent level, but figuring out a team’s plate appearances and category totals is another thing. But we can take a stab at a depth chart and use the ZiPs projections as they are, for the most part, and guesstimate a team home run total.

Here are the Marlins’ players, projected by ZiPs, with some finagling once you get to the league average starting pitcher and beyond:

Giancarlo Stanton RF 569 41 98
Justin Ruggiano CF 447 13 51
Rob Brantly C 551 9 47
Logan Morrison 1B 488 15 60
Adeiny Hechavarria SS 624 7 52
Donovan Solano 2B 475 3 36
Placido Polanco 3B 381 3 26
Juan Pierre LF 542 1 34
League Average SP 350 2 15
Jeff Mathis C 255 5 27
Derek Dietrich SS 307 7 34
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B 486 11 58
Gorkys Hernandez CF 300 2 23
Bryan Petersen RF 350 4 38
6125 123 599

So what we did there was take the league average line for starting pitchers and give them 350 plate appearances for the 2013 Marlins. Four National League teams produced zero home runs by pitchers last year, no team hit more than four, and the average team’s starting pitchers hit one and a half home runs. So two seems reasonable. Then we took a backup shortstop, corner infielder, and two backup outfielders in order to fill our way close to the 6129 average plate appearances that the average National League team managed last season. Those roles are up in the air, of course, but Kevin Kouzmanoff, Derek Dietrich, Gorkys Hernandez and Bryan Petersen are decent enough guesses right now, as long as you believe the Marlins are likely to give Christian Yelich, Jake Marisnick, and Zack Cox more time in the minor leagues. Even if you don’t believe those things, the youngsters aren’t likely to hit more than the 17 home runs we have the veterans producing.

With the numbers we have here, Giancarlo Stanton is going to hit exactly one-third of the Marlins’ home runs next season.

Depending on where you started, that ratio might seem like a lot or a little. But, thanks to Jeff Zimmerman, we can know exactly how Stanton’s loneliness ranks in an historical context, in the free agency era:

Year Team Team HR Player Player HR HR %
1981 PHI 69 Mike Schmidt 31 44.9%
1980 PHI 117 Mike Schmidt 48 41.0%
1978 CHN 72 Dave Kingman 28 38.9%
1981 NYN 57 Dave Kingman 22 38.6%
1974 PHI 95 Mike Schmidt 36 37.9%
1979 PHI 119 Mike Schmidt 45 37.8%
1987 SLN 94 Jack Clark 35 37.2%
1979 SDN 93 Dave Winfield 34 36.6%
1976 NYN 102 Dave Kingman 37 36.3%
1981 SLN 50 George Hendrick 18 36.0%
1975 NYN 101 Dave Kingman 36 35.6%
1979 CHN 135 Dave Kingman 48 35.6%
1991 CLE 79 Albert Belle 28 35.4%
1989 HOU 97 Glenn Davis 34 35.1%
1994 SFN 123 Matt Williams 43 35.0%
1976 PHI 110 Mike Schmidt 38 34.5%
1981 CIN 64 George Foster 22 34.4%
1999 SLN 194 Mark McGwire 65 33.5%
1989 SFN 141 Kevin Mitchell 47 33.3%
1999 CHN 189 Sammy Sosa 63 33.3%
2011 LAN 117 Matt Kemp 39 33.3%
2001 CHN 194 Sammy Sosa 64 33.0%
1994 HOU 120 Jeff Bagwell 39 32.5%
1991 NYN 117 Howard Johnson 38 32.5%

Mike Schmidt sends his condolences, and Dave Kingman gives a knowing nod. But they were of a different time. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are invited to the party, but their qualifications are based on gaudier personal totals rather than team ineptitude.

There’s one name that fits like a glove: Matt Kemp. The 2011 Dodgers existed in the same power atmosphere as the 2013 Marlins will likely exist, and Kemp hit 39 home runs while Stanton is projected to hit 41. Rod Barajas hit 16 home runs to end up second on those Dodgers, and Andre Ethier and James Loney were the only other double-digiters. Justin Ruggiano, Logan Morrison and Kevin Kouzmanoff might fit that bill this year.

Stanton won’t be alone in the strictest sense of the word. He’ll have teammates, and they will hit some home runs. Stanton won’t even be alone when it comes to the history of lonely sluggers. Matt Kemp has felt his pain before, and recently. But if Giancarlo Stanton hits a couple more home runs than his projections, and his teammates hit a couple fewer home runs than their projections, he may be the loneliest slugger of our current offensive era.

At least the history of the Miami Marlins suggests that his loneliness in the everglades won’t last long.

We hoped you liked reading Giancarlo Stanton, The Loneliest Slugger by Eno Sarris!

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With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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josh worn
josh worn

Poor Mike Schmidt.

Dave S
Dave S

Poor Mike Schmidt?
1974: Phils first decent (almost .500) season since 1967
1976: Phils first 100 win season… EVER (started playing in 1883)
1979: Phils miss playoffs after signing Pete Rose. (still over .500)
1980: Phils world champs
1981: Phils in goofy playoffs (strike season)

Those were good Phillies teams. Mike Schmidt was just CRAZY GOOD at baseballing.

josh worn
josh worn

Shows you how much I know about the Philadelphians!


He was obviously referring to the fact that Schmidt had to work in the city of Philadelphia all those years.