After the tragedy one year ago that left the Miami Marlins team, front office and fanbase absolutely devastated, you could say Giancarlo Stanton had something to prove. The team had just lost the face of its franchise in a horrific drug influenced boating accident. The community needed someone to step into the spotlight. Stanton was “that guy.”
To put it into perspective, what Miami Marlins fans lost in Jose Fernandez is to take Red Sox legend David Ortiz away from New Englanders, or Yankee great Derek Jeter from New Yorkers. Sports have always been a source of community and belonging. To see a struggling franchise lose their greatest talent to such sinister circumstances is certainly hard to stomach. Through all the heartbreak endured by the baseball community in the last year, Giancarlo Stanton is single-handedly smashing that pain away with his hot bat this season.
Stanton is currently leading Major League Baseball with 57 home runs, and with just eight games remaining in the season, he now finds himself in pursuit of the historic 60 home run club. Should Stanton join reach this milestone, he will join elite company as one of the only batters in MLB history to reach the 60 home run mark in a single season. Others who have reached this milestone are all time home run leader Barry Bonds, the notorious National League bats in Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, and infamous New York Yankee Hall of Famer Roger Maris, and perhaps the best known ballplayer of all time, Babe Ruth.
At his current position on the home run list with 57 dingers this season, Stanton has already surpassed first ballot Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.’s career single season record home run season of 56, which he did for the Seattle Mariners in both 1997 and 1998. The closest any other active player in the MLB has come to Stanton’s current total is Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista, who hit 54 long balls in 2010. What separates Stanton from the other company mentioned is his age. Stanton is just 27 years old and three years into his landmark 13-year, $325 million contract with the Marlins.
Stanton has already made a name for himself by playing in four all-star games, winning a home run derby (2016) and leading the National League in homeruns (2014). What is perhaps the most startling statistic is Stanton’s home run total this season. He has been in the conversation as one of the best hitters in baseball since he hit 22 homers his rookie season in 2010. Stanton has hit at least 20 home runs in every season since joining the league, which is no easy feat.
Another particularly impressive statistic is how much Stanton has surpassed his own season totals. Before this season, Stanton’s biggest home run achievement was hitting 37 long balls in 2012 and again in 2014. It is incredible that he managed to lead the league with 37 homers just three years ago, and then went beyond that to hit 20 more. Stanton saw much less gameplay last season due to injury, be he still managed to clobber 27 home runs.
The Marlins joined major league baseball in 1993 and have won two World Series titles since then (1997, 2003). The 27-year-old right fielder is already their all time home run leader with 265. Second place is held by retired second baseman Dan Uggla with 154, and third place is held by current Red Sox designated hitter Hanley Ramirez with 148.
Though the loss of Fernandez still looms over the city of Miami, there are no better hands to be guiding a franchise than Stanton’s.