This seems like a silly article to have to write, but here goes: Please pay more attention to the 22-year-old kid with absurd power.
Giancarlo Stanton is having another terrific season at a startlingly young age. Again, he's 22 -- the same age as Jesus Montero, Anthony Rizzo, and about 100 other players who haven't gotten their careers going just yet. Stanton leads the National League in slugging percentage, and he's just a home run away from his career high, despite playing almost 40 fewer games than he did last season.
Yet while we're still breathlessly charting every Mike Trout move and micro-analyzing everything Bryce Harper says or does, Stanton is something of an afterthought in the national eye. He was a big story last year for a while, but it's possible we're taking him for granted right now. And Trout and Harper are getting a lot of press for good reason, of course. Trout might be the most complete young player baseball has seen in decades, and Harper is doing things that teenagers shouldn't do.
But Giancarlo Stanton is still amazing. He's still the best, in which "the best" is defined as "doing unusual things that demand our attention at a young age ." I guess that definition could also apply to high-school kids filling up balloons with urine, but I'm talking about in a baseball context, people. Come on.
Stanton's next home run will be the 90th of his career. A list of players who hit 90 home runs before they turned 23:
That's a list populated by five inner-circle Hall of Famers, one of the most tragic stories in baseball history, and Bob Horner, who had Hall of Fame talent but Single-A health. It takes rare talent to do what Stanton's done, and while his kind of power isn't peerless, it's exceptionally rare, and the peers he's hanging with are some of the best power hitters in history.
But that little note about Horner isn't something to dismiss so cavalierly. One of the reasons we aren't talking about Stanton that much is that he missed most of July with a knee injury -- he had surgery on the same knee that bothered him through the preseason and early in the season. It's why he hasn't put up absurd counting stats, which is one of the reasons he's as under-the-radar as a 22-year-old All-Star could be.
It's far, far too early to suggest he's injury-prone, though. The surgery was to remove loose bodies, and maybe that's the extent of his knee problems. The loose bodies were bumping into other loose bodies coming through the rye, and now his knee is fine. Since the surgery, he's hit .292/.328/.717 with 14 home runs in 120 at-bats.
If you're noticing the .328 on-base percentage in that line, well, you have a point. His strikeout-to-walk ratio in those 120 at-bats: 47 strikeouts to five walks. Three of those walks were intentional. So, yes, he is still a work in progress.
But that doesn't mean he's not amazing. He has as much raw power as any player we've ever seen. A GIF, you say? A GIF.
This isn't a plea to stop paying attention to Mike Trout and Bryce Harper so you can pay more to Giancarlo Stanton. It's a reminder to make some room at the table. You already knew it was a great time to be a baseball fan -- you can watch the Astros running into each other on your phone, spaceman -- but here's another reason why you have it so good. Giancarlo Stanton is still one of the most watchable players in baseball.