Giancarlo Stanton can shed playoff choker legacy like Alex Rodriguez did
It might occur.
Giancarlo Stanton, set to launch his third Yankees postseason on Tuesday, can overcome his historical past, his streakiness, his bodily fragility and another obstacles that stand in the best way of assembly the expectations that accompanied him to The Bronx almost three years in the past.
It might occur as a result of if Alex Rodriguez blew up the same narrative after a far longer and extra arduous journey by means of the pinstriped griddle, then his fellow Most Precious Participant Stanton can observe A-Rod’s lead.
“There’s no query that there’s stress, and it’s sizzling within the kitchen as a result of it’s New York Metropolis. You’ve the neatest, most demanding followers in sports activities,” A-Rod informed The Put up in a phone interview this weekend. “With that, being a Yankee, like The Boss would at all times inform us, it’s championship or bust yearly.”
Evaluating A-Rod to Stanton doesn’t fairly symbolize an apples-to-apples case. Rodriguez, in the midst of a 10-year, $252 million contract when he joined the Yankees in 2004, carried out extraordinarily effectively for the Mariners within the 1997 and 2000 postseasons, though Seattle didn’t advance to the World Collection both yr. Stanton, in the midst of a 13-year, $325 million contract when he joined the Yankees in 2017, by no means reached October with the Marlins, his authentic workforce.
A-Rod’s first postseason sequence as a Steinbrenner household worker went swimmingly, as he slashed .421/.476/737 to assist the Yankees overcome the Twins within the 2004 American League Division Collection. What occurred after that, nonetheless, basically erased that brilliance from the courtroom of public opinion’s data.
“I’ve misplaced years of my life and have grey hairs with ’04,” A-Rod mentioned, referring (naturally) to the Yankees’ ALCS collapse to the Pink Sox that yr. “There’s not a day of my life that I don’t take into consideration ’04, and it haunts you perpetually.”
For Stanton, it’s that first actual swim within the deep finish (placing apart the 2018 AL wild-card sport) that has largely come to outline him. In opposition to the Pink Sox (these guys once more) within the ’18 ALDS, the behemoth posted a dreadful .222/.222/.222 slash line, managing simply 4 singles in 18 at-bats whereas placing out six occasions because the Yankees went down meekly to their rivals. Final yr, so as to add damage to insult, he posted a significantly higher .231/.389/.426, but that got here in simply 5 of the Yankees’ 9 playoff video games, as he missed the remainder (together with the season-ending ALCS Sport 6 loss to the Astros in Houston) as a result of a strained proper quadriceps.
“There’s not a day of my life that I don’t take into consideration ’04, and it haunts you perpetually.”
– Alex Rodriguez
“I feel each participant offers with pressures throughout the board, whether or not you’re a younger participant attempting to ascertain himself. Whether or not you’re a extremely paid star participant,” Aaron Boone mentioned Sunday, in response to a query whether or not the stress hovering over Stanton served as an impediment to October success. “This sport comes with stress, and positively within the postseason.”
A-Rod adopted the workforce’s ‘04 nightmare, throughout which he contributed one single in 15 at-bats and dedicated the notorious “Slap play,” with underwhelming performances the following three years because the Yankees misplaced the ALDS every season. He lastly misplaced his “October choker” label in 2009, when he delivered enormous hits in every spherical — together with a pair of game-tying, late-inning residence runs — and slashed a ridiculous .365/.500/.808 for the month, homering six occasions. That capped a season dramatic even for A-Rod’s excessive requirements, as he started it by confessing to previous unlawful performance-enhancing drug utilization after which underwent a critical hip process that brought about him to overlook the primary month-plus of that season.
These adversities, A-Rod says now, liberated him in a approach — particularly when he was relieved to find the hip surgical procedure wouldn’t shorten his profession — and made his breakout October potential.
“Once I got here again, I used to be actually enjoying with home cash,” Rodriguez mentioned. “I needed to exit and contribute. I didn’t must raise the workforce. I didn’t have to be nice.”
Stanton, who leads a much more vanilla existence than A-Rod, has handled comparably pedestrian hurdles, his accidents much less livelihood-threatening and his on-field travails not producing large clicks. Nonetheless, A-Rod sees a parallel between himself and Stanton.
“I feel the one factor that may be a widespread denominator [between us] is he’s had some robust accidents,” Rodriguez mentioned. “He’s arrange superbly right here on this postseason for 3 causes.”
These causes, as per A-Rod:
1. Going again to California, Stanton’s residence state, for the ALDS and ALCS if the Yankees can defeat the Indians within the wild-card spherical.
2. The absence of followers, who’ve been significantly unforgiving of Stanton in The Bronx: “He can get in a zen second and go off.”
3. “He actually has nothing to lose. The yr has been a wash due to accidents. He has the chance to have one huge second, and he generally is a hero perpetually.”
In his second straight health-challenged season, Stanton put up a powerful .250/.387/.500 line whereas enjoying in solely 23 video games. He slashed .200/.300/.400 in 9 video games again from the injured checklist (strained left hamstring).
“I believed his first a number of video games when he got here again off the IL, he was precisely the place he left off,” Boone mentioned. “Actually controlling the strike zone. Actually high quality at-bats. Onerous contact. After which he had a number of video games, principally in Buffalo there, the place I felt like he … struggled. I felt like we noticed some encouraging issues [Saturday] from him, getting in higher counts, clearly smoking the double and having the stroll.
“Hopefully, he’s in a spot the place he can go impression like we all know he’s able to within the postseason.”
As for Stanton, his phrases final week echoed a few of A-Rod’s sentiments: “Simply to be on the market contributing in any respect is huge for me, for the way these previous years have been. I’m proper there battling with the blokes. The place I’ve at all times needed to be. I’m pleased doing that.”
Consider how pleased he, his teammates and Yankees followers could be if that contentment can result in October excellence. It could not occur, however it could actually.
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