Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has always been known for his immense power, but he’s never done this before. With his home run during Sunday’s game, Stanton became the first player to hit 50 home runs since 2013. He did it before the end of August.
The milestone occurred in the eighth inning. With Clayton Richard on the mound, Stanton belted a 2-1 slider to center for the go-ahead two-run shot. Thanks to Stanton, the Marlins would go on to defeat the San Diego Padres 6-2.
Stanton’s hit marks the 44th time in Major League Baseball history a player has reached the 50-home run mark. The last player to accomplish the feat was Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who hit 53 home runs in 2013.
The hit extends Stanton’s lead in homers this season. He now has a 13 home run lead over New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. Judge has hit 37 bombs. When the Home Run Derby participants were announced, Judge led baseball with 27 dingers. Stanton sat at 21 home runs.
Since then, Stanton has been on an absolute tear. Over the past 45 games, Stanton has hit an incredible .341/.450/.910, with 28 home runs. That doesn’t include Sunday’s numbers, when he went 3-for-3, with another home run. Every part of Stanton’s stat line increased during Sunday’s game.
It’s probably time to point out Stanton’s recent stretch has vaulted the Marlins into the wild card race, and Stanton into MVP consideration. The Marlins are now 66-63. They were 41-46 at the All-Star break. They have cut their wild card deficit in half over that period. Miami is now 4.5 games out of the second National League wild card spot.
Stanton, meanwhile, is tied for second in the NL in fWAR. After Sunday’s performance, he may pass Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt for sole possession of second. Goldschmidt, however, did add a home run of his own Sunday, so the race may remain tied for now.
Both players trail Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, who has notched a 5.8 fWAR this season. Rendon hasn’t received much attention, most likely because he’s a strong contributor in every aspect of the game. He doesn’t have an eye-popping home run number like Stanton, but his .302/.405./548 slash line, with 22 home runs and excellent defense, is impressive.
Based on how Stanton is playing, that might not matter. The gap is already close, and Stanton may continue to inch closer to the lead if he continues to hit like this.
Following Sunday, Stanton is on pace for 63 home runs. That number would make it tough for voters to go in another direction unless Rendon really pulls away over the next couple weeks. If Stanton can get there, he would tie Sammy Sosa for the sixth most home runs in a single season. He would be 10 off Barry Bonds’ record of 73, which he set back in 2001.
To point out the incredibly obvious, Giancarlo Stanton is really good. Considering that he just reached the 50-home run mark in August, he’s likely the frontrunner for NL MVP, even though there’s a legitimate argument for Rendon.
With that seeming likely, Stanton now has to finish the job and lead the Marlins to the postseason. While there’s still a long way for the team to go, it’s pretty tough to say anything is impossible after Stanton carried them into contention over the past two months.
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