Coming up empty against his former team was hardly what Giancarlo Stanton had in mind.
Same is true of the poor first impression he’s made in Yankees pinstripes so far.
Last year’s NL MVP is off to a miserable start with New York — especially at home — and the hulking slugger is hearing it from impatient fans in the Bronx. After going 0 for 4 with two more strikeouts in a 9-1 loss to the last-place Miami Marlins on Tuesday night, the slumping Stanton is 3 for 35 (.086) with 20 strikeouts at Yankee Stadium this season.
“Obviously, he’s frustrated. You want to go out there and perform, especially when you’re an MVP, and obviously he expects a lot of himself,” rookie manager Aaron Boone said. “But I think his focus is tremendous and I’m really confident that the work he’s putting in — and he’s a worker, he gets after it — and I’m confident that once he gets rolling it’ll be a juggernaut. I want him to, just for peace of mind, to get going a little bit and kind of settle in and get into the rhythm of the season, but long-term he’s too good for it not to start happening.”
Until then, however, Boone acknowledged he’s considering a slight drop in the lineup for Stanton, who has been batting third behind Aaron Judge.
The two were supposed to give the Yankees a power-hitting pair to rival Mantle & Maris, or Ruth & Gehrig. But while Judge is hitting .339 with a .480 on-base percentage and four home runs, Stanton has mostly struggled. He’s batting .197 with three homers and 10 RBIs, not nearly enough production to offset his 29 strikeouts in 66 at-bats.
“I might flirt with splitting different guys up and stuff, but not moving him down too far because he’s one at-bat away from getting it locked back in and then the last thing you want is him down in the order getting pitched around,” Boone said. “He’s too premier of a player and an at-bat away from, in my eyes, locking it in. So I might juggle with the top five or six, but as far as moving down significantly, no.”
Stanton led the majors with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs for Miami last season. With a $325 million contract, he was traded to New York in December as part of a payroll purge overseen by new Marlins CEO and ex-Yankees captain Derek Jeter.
In his Yankees debut, Stanton homered twice and drove in four runs on opening day in Toronto. But it’s been a different story at home, where twice he has struck out five times in a game this month.
New York’s big fish has yet to catch on in the Big Apple.
“We’re 16 games in and in baseball that’s a very small sample,” Boone said. “He’ll get it rolling here and eventually the league will pay for some of his early struggles.”
Stanton was the only Yankees starter who didn’t have a hit in Monday night’s 12-1 rout of the visiting Marlins. In his first regular-season game against the team he played for from 2010-17, he fouled out with the bases loaded and whiffed twice. He did reach safely on a walk and a hit by pitch.
Stanton had chances to come through early in Tuesday’s game, but he grounded into a double play with two on and none out in the first inning, then fouled off a 3-0 pitch and popped out on 3-1 with two on and one out in the third.
“Shoot, track record don’t matter in the moment,” Stanton said. “You understand what you’ve done but if you’re in there with a lack of confidence, you might as well go sit down anyways, and that’s from the start of any career. Bad times, good times, whatever.”
He finished 0 for 7 with four strikeouts in the two-game series, prompting the latest round of boos directed at Stanton as the Yankees fell to 8-8.
Stanton said it’s “pretty simple” to block out those boos, and he understands why he’s hearing them.
“You’ve got to own up to it and understand and find a way to get better, find a way to get out of it,” he said.