In the 8th inning of last night’s San Diego Padres at Miami Marlins game, Giancarlo Stanton broke a 2-2 tie with a laser beam home run. The Marlins won the game 6-2, with Stanton’s blast being the deciding factor. This was a special home run for Stanton, more than just helping the Marlins win their game. This was his 50th home run of the season, and we are not yet into September.
MLB’s 50 Home Run Club
With his 50th home run of the season, Giancarlo Stanton has joined an elite club. In MLB history, there have only been 44 individual seasons of 50 or more home runs hit. These 44 seasons have been produced by 28 different players, with only nine players (Alex Rodriguez, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, Mickey Mantle, Ralph Kiner, Sammy Sosa, Willie Mays) having accomplished the feat multiple times. Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa are all tied for the lead with four seasons each of 50 or more home runs.
Yesterday’s game for Stanton was his 127th of the season, putting him as having played the fewest games of any other player in the 50 home run club. The next lowest is Mark McGwire in 1996, having hit 52 home runs in just 130 games. As it stands today, the Marlins have 33 games remaining. Stanton has, so far, played 127 of their 129 games. While the Marlins do not have a realistic shot at the playoffs, it is likely that Stanton will play nearly every remaining game, though not all, with a realistic shot at 60-plus home runs.
Recently, I wrote about Stanton becoming the Marlins all-time home run leader and the pace he would have to keep up to reach 60 home runs. At the time, he had 43 home runs for a pace of 60 for the season. Since then, he’s hit 7 home runs in just 12 games and sits on a pace of 63, which would tie him for sixth all-time with Sammy Sosa’s 1999 season.
Stanton’s Ridiculous Hot Streak
Not only has Stanton been blasting home run after home run, but he has been hitting incredibly well in general. Going from 7/5 to 8/27, he has hit .353/.461/.935 with 12 2B, 29 HR, and an astounding 244 wRC+ in 204 plate appearances. With the 29 home runs hit, that is an absolutely absurd pace of 1 HR every 7 plate appearances. Even better than that, in the 46 games played in that time span, Stanton has homered in 23 of them.
Thanks to this recent amazing play, if you consider nearly 1/3 of the season recent, Stanton has become one of the best players in the MLB. He now sits at 5.7 fWAR, just behind Jose Altuve, Aaron Judge, and Anthony Rendon.
Overall, Stanton is hitting .296/.389/.670 with a 167 wRC+. As it stands, his .670 slugging percentage is the best in the MLB since Albert Pujols slugged .671 more than a decade ago in 2006. His 167 wRC+ leads the MLB just three points ahead of Jose Altuve and Joey Votto, with Harper and Judge just a bit back of them. Perhaps best of all, Stanton currently has a 13 home run lead over the next closest player Aaron Judge.
Best Hitter of the First Half Vs. The Best Hitter of the Second Half
Speaking of Aaron Judge, we all remember how excellent he was in the first half of the season and how many home runs he had hit. For a quick comparison, below are each player’s numbers before and after 7/5 when Stanton’s hottest streak began:
Start of season – 7/4:
Judge – .329/.447/.689 197 wRC+ 28 HR in 347 PA
Stanton – .265/.347/.523 123 wRC+ 21 HR in 346 PA
7/5 – Today:
Judge – .194/.353/.388 96 wRC+ 9 HR in 201 PA
Stanton – .353/.461/.935 244 wRC+ 29 HR in 204 PA
As electric as Judge was in the second half, Stanton is absolutely blowing those numbers away in about 140 fewer plate appearances.
Looking even closer at the second half numbers for Stanton, he has hit .338/.448/.881 with a 228 wRC+, giving him the 4th best second half wRC+ going back to the 2002 season (as far as back as the Fangraphs Splits Leaderboards go). In fact, the only name above him on that list is the all-time home run leader Barry Bonds, appearing in 2002, 2003, and 2004 at 256, 241, and 234 wRC+ respectively. There are only 13 second half seasons of 200 or better wRC+, making what Stanton is doing historically significant.
Single Season Home Run Record
When talking about the all-time home run leader, we are also talking about the single season home run leader in Barry Bonds. While Bonds only hit 50-plus home runs the one time, he made sure it counted by crushing 73 bombs in 2001. He actually did this in only 153 games played, which seems even crazier looking at it now.
To think about just how impossible it seems to hit that many home runs, Stanton would need to hit 23 home runs in the final 33 games of the season just to tie the single season record, let alone hit 24 and break it. By hitting 24 home runs from this point on, that would give him 53 home runs hit in his final 79 games played of the season.
With how blazing hot he has been, I can’t say he won’t be able to do it, but shooting for 60 or more seems far more practical. If Stanton does hit 60 or more home runs, he will be the first player outside of the Steroid Era (I.E. Bonds, McGwire, Sosa) to have done it since Roger Maris’ 61 in 1961. The achievement of this would not be anywhere near the spectacle of the 1998 home run race, but it would still mean a lot to a large portion of MLB fans, and Stanton just may give it to us.