Faced with another injury to captain, 2022 American League MVP and heartbeat of the New York Yankees Aaron Judge, is it time for the Bronx Bombers to panic? The Yankees have gone 30-19 this season, good for a .612 winning percentage, with Judge in the lineup.
In the 15 games that Judge hasn't played, New York has gone a middling 7-8. Plus, even with Judge authoring a worthy sequel to his historic 2022 season, New York has only managed to climb as high as third place in the mighty American League East.
So, it's not time to panic, but it's definitely time to worry.
Fortunately for the Yankees, they just so happen to have another player on the roster, Giancarlo Stanton, who is also capable of incredible feats of strength.
After all, it's easy to forget sometimes that Stanton belted 59 home runs en route to an MVP award of his own with the Miami Marlins back in 2017.
The Yankees need that Stanton to start showing up to the ballpark.
It's not that he's been bad in 2023.
Giancarlo Stanton's 2023 Yankees season
Stanton has appeared in just 17 games this year after a mid-April hamstring strain cut short what was a promising start to the season.
Stanton was activated off the injured list on June 1.
He owned an .854 OPS with four homers, three doubles and 11 RBI in 13 games between March and April.
His current .530 slugging percentage would be his highest since joining the Yankees.
The underlying metrics, such as Statcast's max exit velocity, hard hit rate and expected slugging percentage, suggest that Stanton is as good as ever.
But it hasn't always felt that way during his career in the Bronx.
Stanton's up-and-down New York career
Since being traded to the Yankees in December of 2017, Stanton has produced a .254/.338/.500 triple slash line with 116 home runs and a 129 OPS+ in six seasons in New York.
For comparison, Stanton produced a .268/.360/.554 slash line with 267 long balls and a 147 OPS+ in eight seasons with the Marlins.
Stanton has been good, but not quite as good as he was with the Marlins.
To be fair, he's only getting older, plus he has battled more injuries with the Yankees than he did in Miami, to the point where he's even said that it's “unacceptable this often”- referring to the number of ailments.
If Stanton was any other player with any other contract, his Yankees career would be considered a great success.
But not a player who has a 59-home run pedigree, has won an MVP award and a Home Run Derby and is getting paid $32 million in 2023.
At 33 years old, it's fair to wonder how many more prime years Stanton has left.
Right now, the Yankees will take just one prime year, given the dire circumstances with Judge sidelined.
In other words, it's time for Stanton to step up.
Yankees need Stanton now
New York needs the best version of Stanton they've ever seen- and they might need him to sustain this for quite some time, given that there is currently no timetable for Judge's return from a toe injury- yet.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters before the 2023 season that he still felt there was a “massive season” in Stanton's bat, provided he could stay healthy. Boone mentioned that Stanton is a purer hitter than he was in 2018, his first year in the Bronx.
Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson felt that Judge and Stanton could combine for 100 homers if both stayed healthy.
Clearly, New York thinks very highly of Stanton.
But it's time for the burly slugger to turn that belief into results on the field.
When general manager Brian Cashman swung the trade for Stanton, Yanks fans had visions of a Murderer's Row-type lineup.
Judge has held up his end of the bargain with a Ruthian-type season in 2022.
Fair or not, it's time for Giancarlo Stanton, the slugger who belted 59 home runs six years ago, to show up for the Yankees.
They need that player now more than ever.