The injury affects us all.
The Miami Marlins knew their superstar slugger was hurt Friday night, but the extent of his latest injury was not known until Saturday morning, when it was confirmed Stanton has a broken hamate bone that will cause him to miss 4-6 weeks. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first had news of the severity, and ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian followed with specific details.
The news caused even casual baseball fans to shake their heads at the ongoing plague of bad luck attached to Stanton’s young career. Because of that bad luck, he played 150 games in a season just once in his six years with the Marlins.
Stanton, at age 25, should be one of Major League Baseball’s most marketable players with his cartoonish power, herculean build and electric smile. But once again, the game is deprived of his star power by an injury that seems freakish. And again, bad luck is halting a career that has already taken off but is having trouble reaching full altitude.
“Just on a swing my bat dug into my hand a little bit,” Stanton said after the game, according to Christina De Nicola of Fox Sports Florida. "Didn't feel the greatest, so just get it checked out and know for sure what's going on. I think it just kind of got worse and worse (during the game)."
Since the 2012 season when he was on his way to having a monster year, Stanton has been unable to avoid the debilitating injury. First, it was a knee injury and then an abdomen strain that sucked 39 games from his 2012 season. In 2013, it was shoulder, thigh and ankle injuries that cost him 46 games.
And we all should remember too vividly what happened last season. Stanton was hit in the face by a fastball last September that caused facial fractures and dental damage. The injury forced him to miss the final 17 games of the season, one in which he had established himself as a legitimate National League MVP candidate.
Like this year’s hamate bone, that HBP can be viewed as a freak injury.
Call it bad luck or call Stanton injury prone. Whatever you choose, this is not only bad for the player and the Marlins. This is bad for baseball, a sport that needs all its young stars to shine as brightly as possible while it tries to reach a younger, more diverse demographic that tends to gravitate more toward football and basketball.
Stanton, along with a player like Bryce Harper, would be the perfect pitchman for the sport. If only he could keep himself on the field long enough to put up truly eye-popping numbers in an era when offense is muzzled.
Stanton’s counting stats obviously suffer with his injuries. He has never eclipsed 37 home runs in a season, a total he’s reached twice. The first time he hit the mark was in 2012, when he played in just 123 games. The second time was last season before taking the fastball to the face.
This season, Stanton was already at 27 after going on a June home run binge that saw him collect 12 in a 21-game span. He, along with a handful of other players, could have legitimately chased the 50-home run benchmark. Stanton, and maybe a couple others, could have also had a real shot at 60.
With hamate fractures, there are mixed results when it comes to players returning with their power in tow. If Stanton comes out on the down side upon his return, baseball could lose one of its most dynamic power hitters for longer than this DL stint.
Stanton, who in the offseason signed a 13-year, $325 million contract extension with Miami, struck out three times Friday. His comments on his final whiff—the swing that put the baseball world on notice of a possible injury—could also apply to his latest wound being one in an already long line of frustrating ailments that have kept him from becoming the power-hitting demigod his talent certainly warrants.
“[The injury happened on] one of my at-bats prior, but this one was the icing on the cake,” Stanton said, per De Nicola.
The same line could be uttered by MLB and its fans who truly care about the state of the game and how it is marketed to the next generation. The sport has been sitting on an out-of-this-world season from Stanton for several years now, and the first half of this one seemed like it would finally give it to us. He had played in all but one game in 2015 and had been among the game’s elite hitters.
“It's certainly not great news when you lose a guy that means what he means to this ball club and to baseball,” Marlins manager Dan Jennings told reporters Saturday, per Shandel Richardson of the Sun-Sentinel.
It's unclear what this latest Stanton injury means to the Marlins, but it certainly could make them sellers at the trade deadline. Just as important, though, is the fact that baseball is once again deprived of a full season from one of its stars.
Maybe this is the last significant injury of Stanton’s career. Maybe he returns and is as good as ever, his power returning with him. Or, maybe not.
Right now, the game waits and sees, as we all do, with the hope that Stanton’s plague is nearing an end.
All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired first-hand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.