Up front, let’s stipulate that it can be difficult to discern the sincerity of any “earned his pinstripes” and “Yankees moment” takes. The line between irony and earnestness is thin. And those pieces are coming hot and heavy this morning in the wake of Giancarlo Stanton’s walk-off homer against the Seattle Mariners.
These are annoying for many reasons. My personal pet peeve is how they make Yankees fans seem like the most basic of television consumers desperately in need of the simplest plot points to be drummed into their heads with heavy-handed writing. That without one seminal, dramatic moment a player’s total contributions would be null and void.
Or so it is presented.
The folly of this thinking is evident with Stanton, the expensive new toy who has yet to meet high expectations. He’s been repeatedly booed in the Bronx and the object of much consternation. But let’s look at reality here.
He’s actually been doing some pretty good stuff through 70 games. His 18 homers put him fifth in the American League. He’s in the top 20 of RBIs and slugging. His WAR is 2.0, good for 22nd in the league. Stanton is tied with Aaron Judge for the team lead in longballs, and ranks second in RBI.
Nothing eye-popping there, but it’s something. Stanton’s woeful early-season batting average has climbed up to .255, not a far cry from his career mark of .267. Has he been less ferocious than the Yankees and their fans expected? Of course. But he’s been a reasonable facsimile of Giancarlo Stanton.
The cold unvarnished truth here is that there’s nothing inherently special or magic about the New York Yankees and their pinstripes. “Earning them” doesn’t mean anything. Any Yankkes moment is only good until the next one. No fanbase pauses less to let a player know he’s struggling.
But, hey, these pieces are better than the alternative for Stanton. At least they’re slapping him on the back, not trying to push him out the door.