What is in a name?
For Giancarlo Stanton, a name was the difference between being mistaken for a quality relief pitcher and having a name that could make him like one of those one named soccer stars.
Who hit that homer?
Sounds a lot better than “Mike.”
How the hell did he ever think Mike was the way to go? His full name is Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton. If you had told me that the “Most Interesting Man in the World” from the Dos Equis commercials was named Giancarlo Crus Michael Stanton, I’d believe you.
He is of Irish, Puerto Rican and African American, making him that very American form of melting pot. The LA native turned down football and baseball scholarships to sign with the Florida Marlins out of high school.
Stanton made a mockery of the minor leagues, hitting for a high average, posting an OPS bigger than 1.000 and launching homers left and right. For the cost conscious Marlins looking for a star to replace Miguel Cabrera, he looked to fit the part.
In 2010, Mike Stanton made his debut. Now of course there was another Mike Stanton who played in the World Series with the Bobby Cox Braves and the Joe Torre Yankees (and a smattering of other playoff teams along the way.) So now the Marlins had a cool young slugger and I had to do a double take each time.
Mike Stanton 2.0 did NOT disappoint! In 100 games, the 20 year old slugged 22 homers and had a solid OPS of .833. In 2011, he got some MVP votes as he clobbered 34 homers and saw his OPS climb to .893.
Then in the off season, everything seemed to change for the Florida Marlins and for the better. Ozzie Guillen joined the team as the manager. Jose Reyes, Mark Beuhrle and Heath Bell joined Hanley Ramirez and Stanton to give the team a star studded roster. The franchise was being renamed the Miami Marlins and finally they were moving out of a football stadium and they had their own baseball only park.
With all the changes, Stanton made a change along with everyone else and he was going to go by Giancarlo Stanton. No more confusing him with a quality left handed set up man. He was GIANCARLO!
That May he slugged 12 homers, batted .343 and saw his OPS soar to 1.201. The Marlins might have been underachieving, but Stanton was not as he was holding his own big time until an injury wiped him out in July.
By the time he returned a month later, the Marlins were in freefall. Guillen was a disaster, the team was losing and soon they were selling off their players. Everything had changed and nothing had changed in Miami.
Stanton continued to slug, posting OPS above 1.000 in August and September and crushing 18 homers in the final 2 months. But the Marlins were a mess.
In 2013, Stanton missed more time with injuries but mashed when he was in the lineup. In 2014, he made his second All Star Team and had the best season of his career. He led the NL in homers and slugging and having a .950 OPS in 638 plate appearances, finishing second to Clayton Kershaw in the MVP vote.
He was an elite player, but he was also a Marlin. Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before he joined another team. Rumors swirled about the Red Sox being a landing spot.
The Marlins signed him, shockingly, to a huge contract. It was a 13 year deal. Most careers don’t last 13 years. It was an extension for $325 million and would, if played out in full, keep in under Marlins control through 2028.
I truly hope I am still doing this blog 11 years from now. I think my kids will be done with college.
Now of course it is filled with opt out clauses for Giancarlo and after the 2020 season, if he is still an All Star, he would be bananas to NOT try free agency.
Of course if he gets hurt, he could stay in Miami and collect $30 million a year for 9 or 10 more seasons. I can not imagine that he is thrilled still playing for a team that can not seem to pull itself toward contention. But I hope he at least plays through 2020 there.
It would give him 11 seasons and a chance to have the franchise lead in virtually every single offensive category.
That would be truly cool, especially if you constantly answer the trivia question “Who is the Marlins all time leader in this category or that?” by saying with a flourish “It was GIANCARLO!!!!”