If Giancarlo Stanton decided he wanted to be a professional boxer rather than a baseball player, don’t rule out that in time he would have contended for the heavyweight championship.
At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Stanton’s prodigious power is legendary considering many of his shots travel nearly 500 feet.
Stanton, who attended Verdugo Hills High in Tujunga and later Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks, was a second round pick by the Miami Marlins in the 2007, is tied for first in the majors with 32 homers, leads the National League with 88 runs batted in and is hitting .295.
These numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise because Stanton is coming off a season in which he swatted 24 homers with 62 RBIs in just 116 games, while the two previous seasons drilled a personal-best 37 homers [second in the NL] with 86 RBIs, and 34 home runs with 87 RBIs.
Before being drafted, Stanton, a right-handed batter who owns a lifetime .541 slugging percentage and a .363 on-base percentage, had a private workout at Dodger Stadium under the watchful eye of longtime scout George Genovese, who signed and saw nearly 50 players reach the big leagues while working primarily for the San Francisco Giants.
With cool aplomb, Stanton slammed ball after ball deep into the pavilion with such ease as to make one’s jaw drop. Though the performance was something to behold, the Dodgers passed on Stanton.
“He hit many balls into the bleachers,’’ said Bill Marcot, a scout mostly with the Atlanta Braves and a friend of Genovese. “But they [the Dodgers] didn’t listen even though George wrote a great report. Imagine what the Dodgers lineup would look like if they had Stanton?”
After a slow start the Marlins (62-62) have put it in gear, are third in the NL East, and are in the hunt for a wild card berth after taking three of four from Arizona this past week.
In Sunday’s 10-3 blowout at home over the Diamondbacks, Stanton, who came up to the big leagues in 2010 and creamed 22 homers and drove in 59 runs, singled and homered, scored two runs and had four RBIs, in Saturday’s 2-1 victory, singled and scored, in Friday’s 3-2 loss, singled and had an RBI, and in Thursday’s 5-4 decision, had three hits and an RBI.
Stanton, an excellent all-around prep athlete where he played three sports, accepted a scholarship to play baseball at USC, and was recruited by UCLA and UNLV to play football.
Instead the 24-year-old Stanton opted for baseball which proved the correct decision, but it likely doesn’t sit well with pitchers who have to face him.
Stanton, a two-time All-Star right fielder, knows part of his job is to be a run-producer, and as such ranks first in the majors with 259 total bases.
With 38 games left, the Marlins hope to reach the postseason which was the case in 2003 and 1997 when Miami won the World Series as a wild card.
While making the playoffs is a longshot for the Marlins, who are three and a half games behind San Francisco for the fifth and final spot, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.