ORLANDO, Fla. -- When building a case for Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award, 59 reasons immediately jump out.If the All-Star's 59 home runs, the most in the Majors since 2001, don't grab your attention, then perhaps Stanton's MLB-high 132 RBIs will.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- When building a case for Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award, 59 reasons immediately jump out.
If the All-Star's 59 home runs, the most in the Majors since 2001, don't grab your attention, then perhaps Stanton's MLB-high 132 RBIs will. Or how about his NL-leading .631 slugging percentage. Oh, and for good measure, he scored 123 runs, the second most in the NL.
Stanton let his record-setting numbers do the talking in 2017. On Thursday night, he will see if it's enough to receive the NL MVP Award as voted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). Stanton is a finalist with D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
• Complete 2017 Awards coverage
No Marlins player has won the honor, and an argument can be made that no player in franchise history had a season better than the one Stanton enjoyed in 2017.
For years, Stanton flirted with big numbers, but injuries slowed him down. In 2014, Stanton finished second in the NL MVP Award voting to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. That year, the slugger paced the NL in home runs with 37. If not for getting struck in the face by a pitch and missing the final three weeks the season, Stanton may already have won the award.
• All-time NL MVP Award winners
This season, Stanton stayed healthy, appearing in a personal-high 159 games, and his production was an eye-opening slash line of .281/.376/.631. He was also second in the Majors in OPS (1.007) and total bases (377).
Stanton is already cleaning up this offseason. He has collected three prestigious honors -- the NL Hank Aaron Award, an NL Silver Slugger Award and the Players Choice Award for Outstanding National League Player. He was also a Gold Glove finalist among NL right fielders.
Stanton's season really took off when he closed off his stance in June. Placing his front foot closer to the plate, he covered more of the plate, and he didn't chase as often out of the zone. It is hard to dispute the results, because Stanton improved as the season progressed.
"It put him in a good position to hit," said Marlins assistant hitting coach Frank Menechino. "It put him in position to get out of the way and gave him confidence. Gave him something less to worry about. Before we did that, he was stepping in the bucket and we couldn't stop it. He tried to fix it on his own. He tried to do a couple of different things, this and that."
There was also historical significance to Stanton's numbers. His 18 home runs in August matched an MLB record, set in 1937, for the most ever in the month.
Stanton also broke Gary Sheffield's Marlins record for most homers in a season (42 in 1996) in that same month. Additionally, Stanton established the club's RBIs mark, breaking Preston Wilson's previous mark of 121 in 2000. That sweeping production resulted in Stanton being tied with Anthony Rendon of the Nationals for the highest WAR in the NL (6.9).
• VOTE NOW: Esurance MLB Awards
The downside of the season was that Stanton was not on a winning or postseason club, as Miami finished second in the NL East at 77-85.
Should not playing in October hurt Stanton? Not necessarily. Of the three finalists, only Goldschmidt went to the postseason. And there is plenty of precedent for past NL MVP Award winners coming from non-postseason teams.
Still, it shouldn't be overlooked that the Marlins were 15-28 on May 21. About that time, Stanton started to heat up, and from May 23-Aug. 27, the team went on a 51-35 run, improving to 66-63 and 4 1/2 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot. Stanton hit .315/.418/.746 with 39 home runs and 78 RBIs in that stretch.
Miami faltered in the final weeks because the pitching wore down, though neither Stanton nor the offense sputtered.
Stanton's pursuit of 60 home runs captured the attention of not just MLB, but also the entire sports world. The moment never got too big for him. Should Stanton win the NL MVP Award, it would put the finishing touch on a historical year.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.