Stanton wants to drive in more runs consistently
MIAMI -- Hitting the longest home runs in the game isn't what satisfies Giancarlo Stanton.
The Marlins slugger just so happens to frequently hit the longest shots, as he showed yet again on Friday night with a 450-foot, two-run blast in a 3-2 loss to the Braves.
But Stanton is emerging as an all-around hitter and a complete overall player -- that's what's most important to him.
With 51 RBIs entering Saturday, Stanton tops the Majors in that category. He's also the first Marlins player to drive in 50 prior to June 1. Mike Lowell collected his 50th RBI in Game 57 of the 2001 season. Stanton reached the milestone in 54 games.
"No sign of taking it easy now," Stanton said.
To back his RBI totals, Stanton also paces the National League in homers with 16. He's also batting .317.
A year ago, Stanton battled through injuries, and he appeared in just 116 games. He finished the year with 24 homers and 62 RBIs.
Stanton wants to continue to see a separation between his home run and RBI numbers.
"That's the biggest thing," the slugger said. "I don't want my home runs to be so close to my RBIs. That's key. That makes you an overall hitter and makes you more dangerous. Puts more pressure on them and helps our whole lineup."
The batting average also is a source of pride.
"Home runs, you don't really have to be consistent to hit them," Stanton said. "But if you show up to hit every day, that shows something."
Still, the midseason milestones don't mean much to Stanton.
"Two months," he reminds. "Have a milestone at the end of the year, not a quarter into it."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez managed the Marlins when Stanton was on the verge of breaking into the big leagues in 2010.
"He's been healthy and been able to put those numbers up," Gonzalez said. "When he's on the field, there's no doubt the numbers would be there. He's been a talented guy since Day 1."
Gonzalez also reminds that Stanton now has more than 1,500 big league at-bats. Actually, the slugger is at 1,951. Players tend to come into their own at about the 1,500-at-bat mark.
"Maturity accumulates with those at-bats," Gonzalez said.
Stanton also is showing something with his improved defensive play in right field.
"I'm impressed with him defensively," the Braves manager said. "Not that he was a bad defender, but he's really, really good. He's done some good stuff out there."