Mike Stanton exploded onto the scene in 2010, first at Double-A (.313, 21 HR, 52 RBI in 192 AB) before being promoted straight to the Major Leagues. Obviously he wasn’t quite able to match that type of production, but in his 100 game stint he showed us that he was more than usable in all formats:
359 At Bats
.259 Batting Average (93 Hits)
22 Home Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.326 On Base Percentage
.507 Slugging Percentage
.330 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Power threats like Stanton just don’t come along very often. He started off slowly as he adjusted to the Major League game, hitting two home runs in 74 AB in June (a HR/FB of 12.5%). It probably had some people a little bit skeptical that he wasn’t going to be able to replicate the unbelievable power he had shown. However the Marlins stuck with him and once the calendar turned to July he really began to show us what he can do:
- July – 7 HR in 86 AB (30.4% HR/FB)
- August – 5 HR in 90 AB (20.0% HR/FB)
- September – 8 HR in 98 AB (25.0% HR/FB)
It’s not like he posted one month of an inflated HR/FB before fading. He was consistent, which has to help make you believe in the power he possesses. Among hitters with at least 350 AB in ’10 there were just eight players who posted a HR/FB of at least 20% (Stanton was one of them). Included in that group are some of the elite power hitters in the game like Adam Dunn, Jose Bautista and Ryan Howard.
Despite pushing Stanton to the Majors, the Marlins did try to proceed cautiously with him. They batted him primarily sixth (106 AB) and seventh (167 AB) in an attempt to reduce the pressure placed on him. With Dan Uggla now in Atlanta, that’s no longer going to be the case.
While John Buck could hit cleanup, chances are Stanton takes control of the fourth spot of the order before long, giving him an even greater opportunity to produce. He’ll have Hanley Ramirez and others hitting in front of him, making a big increase in RBI possible.
I know the strikeouts are a concern, which brings the risk of a lower average. He posted a 27.6% strikeout rate at Double-A before posting a 34.3% mark in the Majors. If he didn’t have the type of power that he did it would be a lot more concerning. While you wouldn’t expect him to post a .300 average he proved last year that he’s not going to kill you there, either.
As long as he can maintain a BABIP of between .320 and .330 (not an unrealistic mark), his average should be in the .260-.265 range. If he can reduce his strikeouts, you are talking about someone who could push .270. With the type of power that he has, who is going to complain about that?
Let’s take a look at what I would project from him in 2011:
.269 (148-550), 36 HR, 100 RBI, 85 R, 5 SB, .321 BABIP, .350 OBP, .524 SLG
The projection comes courtesy of a 30.0% strikeout rate. Basically what you are looking at is a similar player to Adam Dunn, just without the track record. Players with 40+ home run potential don’t grow on trees, helping to push Stanton’s value for fantasy owners a little bit higher.
Stanton currently has an ADP of 145.62, something that certainly feels like a bargain. He’s being drafted after players like Nick Swisher, Jason Kubel, Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Lee and a whole host of others. He has the potential to outperform them all, and not by a small margin. I would consider him a Top 20 OF immediately, and someone who has the potential to be a lot more than that.
Needless to say, he’s high up on my wish list. He has been selected as early as number 58 and certainly someone that I would look to select in the seventh or eighth round, as I have him ranked 66th overall. He just has too much upside to let get away and I would want to make sure I didn’t miss out on him. At that point in the draft, I don’t mind taking a little bit more of a risk on an “unestablished” player.
What are your thoughts of Stanton? What type of numbers are you expecting from him in 2011? Where would you be targeting him on draft day?
What about you? Is Upton someone you would in the fourth round of yearly leagues? Why or why not?
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Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections: