Giancarlo Stanton hit home run No. 47 in Philadelphia on Thursday, a 115.7-mph blast that was measured as his hardest-hit home run of the season. It was his third homer in five games, ninth in 14 and 14th of August. It's not just about whether Stanton will lead the Majors,
Giancarlo Stanton hit home run No. 47 in Philadelphia on Thursday, a 115.7-mph blast that was measured as his hardest-hit home run of the season. It was his third homer in five games, ninth in 14 and 14th of August. It's not just about whether Stanton will lead the Majors, because that's now a foregone conclusion, with second-place Aaron Judge both slumping and 10 behind. It's about something bigger. The hunt for 62 is officially on.
Now, as you'll surely note, 62 is not the Major League record for home runs in a season. That's 73, by Barry Bonds in 2001, and while there's obvious controversy associated with that number -- as Stanton himself noted recently -- it remains the record everyone has to shoot for. Stanton is not going to get to 73, not this year. But even if getting to 62 would "only" be the eighth highest in history, it's still a number that carries incredible meaning in baseball, given that Roger Maris' 61 was the record for nearly five decades. Getting there matters.
So let's run the numbers. Is there enough time left in the season for Stanton to get to 62? And what does the remaining schedule have to say about what it might take? Well, yes. He surely does.
If you were to simply look at Stanton's season-to-date pace, he's hit his 47 in 534 plate appearances, or one every 11.4 times up. He's been receiving 4.3 plate appearances per start, and assuming he starts each one of the 36 games Miami has remaining, that could be approximately 155 more plate appearances to come. If Stanton continued hitting a home run every 11.4 plate appearances, that would be 13.6 more home runs… and we'll call that 14. There's 61 right there.
But wait! As you may have noticed, the Stanton we're seeing right now is somewhat different from the Stanton we've seen all year. It took him 45 games to get his first 11 home runs; it's taken him just 18 games to hit his most recent 11. As you can see in this game-by-game breakdown of when Stanton's home runs have occurred, he's been on a dinger tear for about three months.
This run dates back to June 19, when Stanton made a major change to his hitting stance, closing his front foot. Before then, he'd hit 17 in 282 plate appearances, a pace of one every 16.6 times to bat. That night, Stanton hit a game-tying home run as the Marlins turned a 6-0 deficit into an 8-7 win over the Nationals; including that dinger, he's hit 30 in 255 plate appearances since the stance change, a ridiculous pace of one home run every 8.5 plate appearances.
If Stanton kept up that pace through 155 more times up, he'd hit 18 additional, for a total of 65. We'll consider that at least plausible in a best-case scenario, yet still unlikely -- it would literally be one home run every two games for the rest of the year.
There's something else to consider, of course: The schedule, which looks like it might be favorable to Stanton. Here's how those remaining 36 games break down for the Marlins, starting Friday night with a series against San Diego where the Padres will throw two lefties, Travis Wood and Clayton Richard.
Remaining Marlins games in 2017
3 vs. San Diego
3 at Washington
4 vs. Philadelphia
3 vs. Washington
4 at Atlanta
3 at Philadelphia
3 vs. Milwaukee
3 vs. N.Y. Mets
3 at Arizona
3 at Colorado
4 vs. Atlanta
That last road trip of the year, from Sept. 22-27, takes the Marlins through Arizona and Colorado, two of -- if not the two -- most hitter-friendly parks in the Majors. You can easily see how those six games are going to be must-watch, not only because both the D-backs and Rockies are fighting for the National League Wild Card, but because Stanton might just be headed west with a historic number in his sights.
Stanton does, after all, own the longest projected distance on a home run tracked by Statcast™, a 504-ft blast last summer that came in Colorado, the perfect confluence of the exact player and venue for a record. Plus, his 10 home runs at Coors Field are the most of any non-divisional ballpark he's played in, having come in just 20 career games. Stanton has played six series there since 2011, and he's homered in five of them. He's hit multiple homers in three of them. It's a safe bet at least one long ball, if not more, will be headed into the mountains in late September.
Now, we can't predict everything about games that far in the future. When the Marlins welcome the Mets to Miami on Sept. 18-20, for example, it's possible that New York could be starting Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, if the latter two return from rehab by then. It's also possible the Mets are starting Tommy Milone, Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero in that series. That would make something of a difference -- plus, September roster expansion will allow teams like the Braves and Phillies to add plenty of pitchers who can't currently make the cut.
Still, we can go with what we know. Aside from his success at Coors Field (one homer every nine plate appearances), Stanton hit three homers in three games the last time the Marlins visited Atlanta's new SunTrust Park, including one measured at 477 feet, his longest of 2017. (It would help if R.A. Dickey, who allowed two, were lined up to start.) He's hit 19 homers in Nationals Park, his highest road total other than in Citi Field, including three in four days earlier this month.
All told, Stanton has hit one home run every 15.5 plate appearances over his career. Of the five parks he'll visit the rest of this season, he's got a better career mark than that in all but one, Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park (18.0). Of course, Stanton just hit two in three days there, and that's the flaw of career numbers -- the Phillies pitchers he'll see in September aren't the Roy Halladay/Cole Hamels/Cliff Lee/Roy Oswalt Phillies he saw when he came up.
Still, four of the five parks Stanton will go to are considered hitter-friendly, with Washington considered more neutral. Marlins Park is considered more of a pitcher's park, yet Stanton's home/road power splits are nearly identical, both this year and for his career. Plus, of the eight pitching staffs he'll see, only Washington and Arizona -- and maybe Milwaukee -- can be considered to have above-average staffs.
Our prediction? Everything is falling into place. Stanton is a particularly dangerous version of himself, right now. The Majors are on pace to shatter home run records. He gets to go to home run friendly parks, and he gets to avoid baseball's best pitching teams, mostly. Stanton won't get 73, and he won't come close. But he's got 36 games to hit 15 homers, to get to 62. We'll say Stanton will do it, right on the nose. Sixty-two is within reach. We're finally seeing the Stanton we'd always hoped for.
Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.