Home News Giancarlo Stanton needs to step up for Yankees

Giancarlo Stanton needs to step up for Yankees

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Everybody knows the bad news right now for the Yankees, the run of bad news that began with Aaron Judge injuring his right big toe running into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium.

The Yankees lost five of six to the Red Sox over the past two weekends, and they just got themselves swept at Fenway Park. They are scoring a run and a half fewer without Judge in the batting order than they do with him; they have no bottom of the order these days; their rookie shortstop, Anthony Volpe, has a batting average of .189; Carlos Rodón still hasn’t pitched an inning for them; and their record is currently 13 games worse than it was a year ago when we thought they were about to run away from the whole world in the AL East.

More bad news? Since the Yankees were 64-28 at the All-Star break a year ago, their record is 77-74, including the postseason. That is nearly an entire season of barely over .500 baseball.

With all that — and you need to hang with me on this — there still might actually be reasons for Yankees fans to be optimistic about their team’s chances, even if that team is 10 1/2 games behind the Rays right now. Judge will be back eventually, even if no one is sure quite when. Rodón is rehabbing; Nestor Cortes is doing the same. And the Yankees don’t have to play anybody in their division — the Yankees are 11-15 against the AL East so far — until the Orioles come to Yankee Stadium the week of July 3. In a bad-news stretch like this, it’s a good thing, believe me.

But what they really need right now with the Mariners and Rangers on their way into Yankee Stadium is for their big guy to start hitting home runs again. No, not that big guy. Not Judge. He’s still on the injured list. This is about their other big guy:

Once and for all, they need Stanton to be who and what they thought he was going to be when they got him to New York after a 59-home run season for the Marlins in 2017. They need him to play the outfield and stay on the field and to bring at least some of the danger to the Yankees’ offense that Judge does when he’s healthy. This is Stanton’s sixth season in New York and Yankees fans don’t think it’s time for the big guy to show up in a big way. They think it is well past time.

Since coming to the Yankees, Stanton has played 473 out of a possible 780 games. He has hit 117 homers, which means about twice what he hit in his last season in Miami. He is currently batting .204, and his average is .119 (with 15 strikeouts) in the 12 games he’s played since coming off the IL. Can he change everything with the timid Yankees offense we’ve been seeing lately? He can’t. But if he gets hot, that means right now against the Mariners starting Tuesday night, he can change an awful lot.

Here is what Stanton said at Fenway on Sunday:

“I just need to find my rhythm, pick the ball up a little sooner. The reps help, but … I need to [make] an impact when I’m in there, so I just need to figure it out.”

Here is what Stanton’s manager, Aaron Boone, said:

“Big G’s going to hit. They’re going to get it rolling. We’ve just got to grind our way through it.”

Boone was talking about his players grinding their way through this period without Judge, who so clearly is more important to his team than any other single player in the game right now. It’s just that the Yankees aren’t doing much at all with that grind. Anthony Rizzo is hitting a .262 that looks softer than soft ice cream. DJ LeMahieu is at .232. Josh Donaldson is at .151. Their best hitter game to game is Gleyber Torres. He’s at .256, with 12 homers. Once Judge sat down, nobody has stood up for the Yankees.

That is where Stanton comes in.

He has now had two weeks’ worth of those reps he spoke of on Sunday. This is a tremendous opportunity for the slugger — who has looked like a bust in New York since hitting 38 home runs and knocking in 100 in his first Yankees season — to very much go boom, when his team needs him to do that as much as it ever has.

Listen: The Yankees found out last season that having the kind of record they did at the All-Star break won them nothing in the end. Boone has a perfect right to tell them that there is plenty of time for them to flip the script and finish this season the way they started last year. And guess what? They can tell themselves, the way they’ve played lately, that they could be worse than just nine games behind the Rays in the loss column. And they can plainly see that the team they were playing the night Judge got hurt — the Dodgers — have the same record as they do and also got swept over the weekend.

There’s still time. And a perfect time for Stanton to stand up. The other big guy at Yankee Stadium.

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