Stanton primed for MVP-type run

MIAMI — At this pace, Giancarlo Stanton could be primed to do something never accomplished in Marlins’ history. The 24-year-old right fielder could become the organization’s first MVP winner.

So many great players have come and gone through South Florida. None better than Miguel Cabrera, who finished second one time in the batting title race during his days in Miami. Hanley Ramirez in 2009 won the batting title, and finished second to Albert Pujols in the MVP voting.

No Marlin has ever finished higher than second for the top individual honor.

Could Stanton’s brute force power him to the top? If he stays healthy, it’s certainly possible.

Stanton tops the NL in home runs with 10 and leads the Majors in RBIs with 37. He’s batting a respectable .283 and his slugging percentage is at .591.

As impressive as Stanton has been, the player that topped him for National League Player of the Month in April is Troy Tulowitzki.

The Rockies shortstop is off to a blistering start. He has nine homers and 29 RBIs, and a whopping slugging percentage of .786.

Like Stanton, the key for Tulo is health. If he stays healthy, the National League could have a remarkable two-player race. At least, two players in the early going.

In handicapping the MVP field, you have to ask, are the numbers sustainable? Stanton basically is showing what he is capable of, and quite honestly, he is excelling without being as consistent as he’d like. Tulo, on the other hand, is batting .408. That’s his batting average. Obviously, it is highly doubtful he will become the first player since Ted Williams to finish above .400.

Stanton’s impact also is measured by how valuable he is to his team. The Marlins last year finished last in runs scored. The Rockies have consistently been a high-scoring team, especially at home.

Stanton also is showing he can make the players around him better. Casey McGehee, remember, was playing in Japan last year. McGehee now is batting cleanup for Miami, and he has four game-winning RBIs this year. McGehee also is batting .411 with runners on base, .406 with runners in scoring position and .444 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

Garrett Jones, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Marcell Ozuna are lengthening the lineup hitting behind Stanton.

Still, Stanton is the first to admit, he has his ups and downs.

“I just have to realize, you don’t have swing as hard as you can, and you don’t have always hit a home run to be successful to get runners in,” Stanton said.

It’s pretty basic for Stanton. Don’t chase bad pitches.

“It’s just doing what I can with balls over the plate,” he said. “I’ve had some really bad games with balls over the plate. Just keeping it going, and not thinking about those, and keep pushing forward on what I can control, and help this team win.”

The Marlins clearly are built around Stanton. With his size and power, he can do so much damage when not trying to do too much.

“He gets so much leverage through the zone,” manager Mike Redmond said. “With him being as big as he is, and as strong as he is, he doesn’t have to overpower the baseball. He just has to take a normal swing. Probably, if he swings too hard, it will work against him. Just a nice easy swing for him in the zone has a lot more impact. His check swings are more powerful than my full swings. He’s got a quick bat. The key for him is pitch selection. When he gets good pitches, and when they make mistakes, he makes people pay.”

Joe Frisaro

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