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Entries in Miami Marlins (16)


Giancarlo Stanton Solves Breaking Stuff

Giancarlo Stanton is not a happy man. And who can blame him? The Marlins' outfield prodigy has jacked more home runs through his age-22 season (93) than every hitter not named Mel Ott, Eddie Matthews, Alex Rodriguez, Tony Conigliaro and Frank Robinson, yet he's now surrounded by a quasi-Triple-A squad that will cost less than that psychedelic home run sculpture in Miami's taxpayer-funded stadium/night club/art gallery.

While the Marlins look primed for another last-place finish in the NL East standings, Stanton can at least take solace in his rapid improvement at the plate. Stanton's on-base-plus-slugging percentage has soared from 18 percent above the major league average during his rookie season to 41 percent above average in 2011 and 58 percent above average in 2012. He has developed into one of the game's most dangerous hitters by taking out his Fish-induced frustration on curveballs and sliders.

Stanton crushed fastballs from the moment he reached the majors, but pitchers could beat him with quality breaking stuff during his rookie year:

Stanton's slugging percentage by pitch location vs. curveballs and sliders, 2010

Stanton slugged .346 against curves and sliders as a rookie, which was about 25 points below the major league average. He hit six homers against breaking balls, and none came on a pitch thrown to the bottom third of the strike zone.

In 2011, Stanton expanded his slugging prowess against curves and sliders:

Stanton's slugging percentage by pitch location vs. curveballs and sliders, 2011

He still scuffled against low-and-away pitches, but Stanton improved his slugging percentage on curves and sliders to .444. Stanton went deep 11 times on breaking balls, including two on low pitches.

This past year, Giancarlo transformed into an elite hitter against breaking stuff:

Stanton's slugging percentage by pitch location vs. curveballs and sliders, 2012

He slugged .563 against curves and sliders, tying Josh Hamilton for the fourth-best mark among MLB hitters, and his 13 homers on breaking balls ranked behind just Hamilton. Stanton hit six homers on low breaking stuff.

Stanton, under contract with the Marlins through the 2016 season, probably wishes he had Hamilton's freedom to change zip codes this winter. But if he maintains his gains against breaking stuff and stays healthy, Giancarlo is going to get a payday that trumps Hamilton's down the line.


Jays' Johnson, Morrow Feature Wipeout Sliders

The Toronto Blue Jays' starting rotation in 2012 was both pained (Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison underwent Tommy John surgery) and painful to watch (they ranked 10th in the American League in ERA). GM Alex Anthopoulos hopes he solved those rotation woes by taking on salary in the Marlins' latest roster purge, acquiring Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle as part of a 12-player deal.

Johnson will team with the Jays' other brittle-but-brilliant ace, Brandon Morrow, to give the club arguably the game's best pair of sliders among starting pitchers. Johnson and Morrow unleash upper-80s breakers that they bury at hitters' knees, producing precious little hard contact. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has his Picassos, but Anthopoulos and the Jays are fine slider connoisseurs.

Both right-handers feature power sliders, with Johnson averaging 86.9 MPH (10th-highest among qualified starters) and Morrow sitting at 87.2 MPH (sixth-highest). But these guys do more than merely throw hard -- they command their sliders exceptionally well. Take a look at Johnson and Morrow's pitch location with their sliders this past season:

Johnson's slider location in 2012


Morrow's slider location in 2012


Johnson threw his slider to the bottom third of the strike zone about 78% of the time, trailing only Zack Greinke among starters. Morrow also stayed low, locating the pitch down about 66% of the time. For comparison's sake, the MLB average for starters is about 54%.

Why does that matter? Pitchers thrive when they keep their sliders down. MLB starters surrendered just a .266 opponent slugging percentage on low sliders this past year, far lower than their .472 mark on middle-zone sliders and .367 slugging percentage on high sliders. By routinely cutting off batters at the knees with sliders, Johnson and Morrow limited extra-base knocks. Morrow had the lowest opponent slugging percentage on his slider among all starters, and Johnson also cracked the top 15:

Lowest opponent slugging percentage among qualified starting pitchers, 2012

PitcherSlugging Pct.
Brandon Morrow .197
Nathan Eovaldi .209
Matt Moore .227
Matt Cain .229
James McDonald .232
Yu Darvish .236
Colby Lewis .238
CC Sabathia .244
Felix Hernandez .250
Jarrod Parker .253
Mat Latos .254
Homer Bailey .259
Jason Hammel .265
Kyle Lohse .267
Josh Johnson .271



Giancarlo Stanton is in the zone

Last night, Giancarlo Stanton hit his 34th home run of the season, tying for the second-most homers in a season in Marlins history.

When healthy, Stanton has been a force with a .952 OPS, batting .283 and leading the majors with .600 slugging percentage. 

Take a look at his slugging this season:

It is apparent from the graphic above that pitchers need to fear throwing Stanton a strike.

Look at Stanton's effectiveness at pitches in the strike zone:

His numbers are overwhelming. On pitches in the strike zone, Stanton is hitting .358, slugging .795, with an OPS of 1.161. Against lefties his numbers are even better with pitches in the strike zone hitting .373 and slugging .851 

Here are the Marlins who have hit at least 30 homers in a season:

1 Gary Sheffield 42 1996 161 519 120
2 Giancarlo Stanton 34 2012 113 413 79
3 Giancarlo Stanton 34 2011 150 516 87
4 Miguel Cabrera 34 2007 157 588 119
5 Dan Uggla 33 2010 159 589 105
6 Hanley Ramirez 33 2008 153 589 67
7 Carlos Delgado 33 2005 144 521 115
8 Miguel Cabrera 33 2005 158 613 116
9 Miguel Cabrera 33 2004 160 603 112
10 Mike Jacobs 32 2008 141 477 93
11 Dan Uggla 32 2008 146 531 92
12 Mike Lowell 32 2003 130 492 105
13 Dan Uggla 31 2009 158 564 90
14 Dan Uggla 31 2007 159 632 88
15 Derrek Lee 31 2003 155 539 92
16 Cliff Floyd 31 2001 149 555 103
17 Preston Wilson 31 2000 161 605 121
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/12/2012.