Despite dealing with lingering soreness in his left knee, Giancarlo Stanton appears to be finding his way in the batter's box.
If not for a 425-foot three-run blast by Stanton on April 29th, the Miami Marlins right fielder was set to join Albert Pujols among the big boppers who came up empty in the home run column during MLB’s opening month.
Stanton’s first blast of the year may not have impacted the outcome of the ballgame (8-4 rout by the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks), but it certainly gave the 22-year-old phenom something to carry with him into a brand new month.
Miami is now a perfect 6-0 for the month of May, highlighted by sweeps over the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres, and it was Stanton leading the charge with four home runs, five walks and a .350 batting average in those games.
The five walks for Stanton in May are one more than he recorded in the entire month of April.
Taking into account the small sample size of Stanton’s efforts this month, the slugger has increased his on-base percentage exponentially (.342 in April to 1.050 in May) and has played a crucial part in the Marlins’ rise back to .500 (now 14-14 on the year).
Stanton now sports a .271 BA with five HR and 15 RBI through 28 games this season.
While the Marlins’ newly acquired Heath Bell may be in the midst of a potential closer controversy after blowing four saves in just seven chances this season—Stanton’s woes at the plate are looking to be old news.
Surprisingly, Stanton was a popular selection for preseason NL MVP predictions, and he'll need to build on this recent tear if he wants to live up to those lofty expectations.
That said, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp seems determined to claim that title as he follows up an amazing 2011 campaign. Kemp is on a blistering pace (.388 AVG, 12 HR, 27 RBI) through 27 games in 2012.
But Stanton is building off a breakout season of his own (34 HR, 87 RBI in 2011) and fans in Miami are eager to see the slugger fulfill his superstar potential.
MVP or no MVP, Stanton appears to be over his slow start and ready to put on a show in front of the hometown fans at Marlins Park all summer long, and quite possibly long into the fall as well.
The Marlins haven't made a postseason appearance since the magical 2003 season that saw the now-Detroit Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera kick start what's been a ridiculously impressive career and assist the underdog Marlins to their second-ever World Series title.
Can Stanton and "The Miracle Marlins" write their own script in 2012 and bring home a third title as the franchise ushers in a new era in Miami?