The 2014 Major League Baseball season is less than a month old and it’s far too early to talk pennant races, award winners or even All-Stars. To this point however, few players if any in the National League have had a better start than Miami Marlins’ right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. While the Marlins have certainly cooled down after a 5-1 start, Stanton has not.
With a .284 batting average, Stanton has done just about everything for Miami at the plate this season. With increased protection in the lineup this season, Stanton leads all of baseball with 27 RBIs and is third in the National League with six home runs. All of Stanton’s long-balls seem to be moon-shots and his walk-off grand slam against Seattle last Friday may be the highlight of April throughout baseball.
While it’s way too early to talk MVP race, Stanton is finally reaching his full potential at the big league level. Last place teams rarely have league MVPs in their lineup, but for a team that lost 100 games a season ago, 10-12 is a pretty solid start for Miami.
Making Stanton’s start even more impressive is the fact that he has done most of his damage at Marlins Park, a place largely regarded as a pitcher’s park. While Miami has 10 wins early on, Stanton owns a pair of game-winning hits in the Marlins’ final at-bat and the game-winning run on another occasion.
Though Stanton looks poised to earn his second All-Star nomination in three years, the issue for the 24-year-old early in his career has been staying healthy. Stanton has played in each of Miami’s 22 games this year, but over the past two seasons, he has missed 85 combined games.
If Stanton can manage to stay healthy, there is a very good chance that he has the greatest season ever by a Marlins’ hitter. While it’s unlikely that Stanton will drive in 199 runs — his current pace — Stanton could realistically have a 40 home run season and drive in over 100 runs for the first time in his career.
As far as Most Valuable Player is concerned, that award will likely go to a player on a contending team. Thanks largely to Stanton however, the Marlins have been something other than a laughingstock early on. While the MVP award may not go to Stanton this season, one could potentially be in his future. If Miami can continue to play close to .500 ball this year, Stanton at the very least, deserves some consideration.