Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton pivots from flop to ‘unicorn’ in 24 hrs with record power

Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton reacts after hitting a monstrous 119.9 mph home run against the Houston Astros on May 8, 2024, at Yankee Stadium.

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Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees’ formidable slugger, unleashed a monstrous 119.9 mph home run against the Houston Astros on Wednesday night, setting a new benchmark for the hardest-hit ball in the majors this season. The colossal 447-foot blast followed his record-setting 118.8 mph homer off Justin Verlander in Tuesday’s 10-3 victory, which manager Aaron Boone likened to a 2-iron shot.

During the third inning of the Yankees’ 9-4 triumph, Giancarlo Stanton turned on a 1-2 curveball from rookie starter Spencer Arrighetti, launching it into the second deck in left field at Yankee Stadium, just inside the foul pole.

Despite the effects of age and no longer consistently performing at the MVP level he showcased during his tenure in Miami, Giancarlo Stanton once again demonstrated why he remains a feared presence in the batter’s box.

His blistering 118.8 mph line drive home run to left field off Verlander in the bottom of the fifth inning on Tuesday was the second-hardest hit ball in the majors this season, surpassed only by a Shohei Ohtani single last month that registered at 119.2 mph. Reflecting on the homer, Aaron Boone described Giancarlo Stanton as “weird” and “a unicorn,” emphasizing his unique power and ability.

In a display of sheer power that left spectators in awe, Giancarlo Stanton connected with a 79 mph curveball that hung over the heart of the plate on a 1-2 count. The ball rocketed off his bat at an astounding 119.9 mph, surpassing Shohei Ohtani’s previous mark of 119.2 mph for the hardest-hit ball in the majors this season.

When asked to describe Giancarlo Stanton’s Wednesday night home run, Yankees manager Aaron Boone playfully remarked that it was simply “strange,” adding a hashtag of “weird” for emphasis. He jokingly suggested that hitting a home run at 120 mph would undoubtedly secure victory in any contest of raw power.

“I don’t know,” the manager said. “Just weird. Hashtag weird. I think if you hit one 120 [mph], you win.”

As per the data provided by MLB Statcast, Giancarlo Stanton’s monstrous home run on Wednesday night, his eighth of the season, set a new benchmark for the hardest-hit ball by any player in the majors this year. This feat not only tops the list of home runs but also stands as the most forceful contact made on any batted ball in 2023. Since the introduction of Statcast technology in 2015, Stanton has been responsible for an astonishing three out of the five hardest-hit home runs recorded.

His latest blast ranks as the fifth-hardest, while his awe-inspiring 121.7 mph drive against the Texas Rangers in August 2018 remains the all-time record in the Statcast era. Furthermore, Giancarlo Stanton’s 121.3 mph moonshot at Nationals Park in July 2020 holds the second spot on this exclusive list, solidifying his reputation as one of the most powerful sluggers in the game today.

Giancarlo Stanton’s home run also secured a place among the five hardest-hit homers tracked by Statcast. Atlanta star Ronald Acuña Jr. launched a 121.2 mph shot last September at Dodger Stadium, while Stanton’s Yankees teammate Aaron Judge crushed a 121.1 mph drive in June 2017 against Baltimore.

Judge praised Giancarlo Stanton’s performance, marveling at his ability to consistently exceed expectations. He expressed his enjoyment in witnessing Stanton’s success throughout the year, especially considering his efforts to bounce back from the previous season.

Through the first six weeks of the season, Judge has observed a leaner Giancarlo Stanton “staying through the ball well and using the whole field.” Wednesday’s homer, a pure bullet, exemplified his impressive hitting prowess.

“(Stanton) outdid himself again tonight. Impressive,’’ said Judge, “It’s been fun to watch him do this thing this year. Especially trying to bounce back after last year.’’

“I feel like the night before he had the hardest hit in baseball. Then he outdid himself again tonight. Just impressive. He’s staying through the baseball well, using the whole field. When he’s using the whole field, that’s when I know he’s locked in.”

A rebound for aging Giancarlo Stanton

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AP

Despite showing signs of age, particularly on the basepaths, the 34-year-old Giancarlo Stanton remains a formidable presence in the Yankees’ lineup. With a talented outfield corps consisting of Juan Soto, Aaron Judge, and Alex Verdugo, complemented by the versatile Trent Grisham, there has been no pressing need to deploy Giancarlo Stanton in a defensive role. This situation allows the veteran slugger to direct his full attention to his offensive contributions, which continue to make a significant impact on the team’s success.

As Giancarlo Stanton maintains his grip on the home run milestone, the longer he can sustain this achievement, the more it serves as a testament to his enduring power and productivity. Reflecting on the possibility of someone eventually surpassing his record, the power hitter acknowledges that it is a landmark worth striving to uphold.

He emphasizes that the accomplishment not only represents the longevity of his career but also serves as a symbol of his ongoing effectiveness. Giancarlo Stanton expresses a strong desire to continue making positive contributions to this milestone, viewing it as a measure of his sustained impact on the game.

While Giancarlo Stanton’s average exit velocity has experienced a gradual decline over the past three seasons, it still ranks among the elite in the league. Similarly, his power numbers have shown some diminishment, and he is currently walking at a lower rate compared to any other point in his career. Moreover, Giancarlo Stanton, once regarded as one of the premier fastball hitters in the game, has seen a drop in his performance against heaters.

Yankees'  Giancarlo Stanton unleashed a monstrous 119.9 mph home run against the Houston Astros on May 8, 2024, at Yankee Stadium.
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Despite these statistical trends, Yankees manager Aaron Boone continues to place unwavering trust in Stanton, consistently slotting him in the heart of the team’s batting order. Boone’s faith in the slugger’s ability to deliver in crucial moments remains steadfast, as Stanton’s presence alone can alter the complexion of a game with a single swing of the bat.

Aaron Judge praised Giancarlo Stanton’s performance, marveling at his unwavering ability to make solid contact with the ball. Judge noted that his teammate had managed to outdo his already impressive showing from the previous night. He also observed that the power hitter was effectively utilizing the entire field, which the captain interpreted as a clear indication of Giancarlo Stanton’s focused and productive approach at the plate.

Thus far, Giancarlo Stanton is batting .228 with eight home runs and 20 RBIs. The previous season was particularly challenging for the slugger, as he missed two months due to a hamstring injury and posted a career-low .191 batting average, accompanied by 24 homers and 60 RBIs. The Yankees, as a team, finished with an 82-80 record, narrowly avoiding their first losing season since 1992.

The game witnessed Judge and Giancarlo Stanton going deep after Juan Soto launched a two-run blast on the first pitch he encountered in the opening inning. This marked the first instance in which the powerhouse trio of Soto, Judge, and Stanton all homered in the same game while donning Yankees uniforms.

Soto expressed awe at the incredible force with which the ball was struck by Giancarlo Stanton. He emphasized the rarity of witnessing balls hit at velocities approaching 120 mph, underscoring the extraordinary nature of Stanton’s accomplishment.

“G, it’s just how hard he hit the ball is amazing,” Soto said. “You don’t see guys hitting balls 120 (mph) every day.”

The formidable power combination of Soto, Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton showcased a monumental performance on Wednesday, the kind of display Yankees fans have been eagerly anticipating for an extended period.

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