When a big-time deal is made in Major League Baseball, your mind immediately floods with a million questions. Saturday's blockbuster trade that sent Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins to the New York Yankees raised about 295 million of them.
Here are just a couple: What will Yankees broadcaster John Sterling's home run call be for Stanton? Should the Marlins, as a franchise, be traded to Triple-A for, say, the Gwinnett Stripers and redubbed the Minnows? Are the Yankees still as "likable" as some seemed to think they were last season? What would Bowie Kuhn, circa 1976, think about all of this, given that, after all, we're talking ostensibly about one team purchasing a star player from another team?
There is plenty of time to answer these and many more queries because, chances are, Stanton is going to be in New York for a very long time. Owner Hal Steinbrenner might want to take out some form of hail insurance on his ballpark because with Stanton playing alongside Aaron Judge, there is going to be a lot of superficial damage done to the outfield area of Yankee Stadium over the next few years. According to ESPN Stats & Information, last season, Judge and Stanton combined for 47 batted balls with an exit velocity of 115 mph or more. The rest of baseball combined for 39 such rockets.
The Home Run Derby showdown we hoped for in Miami during the 2017 All-Star break will be playing out on a nightly basis for the Yankees. The obvious way to look at it is like this: The Yankees, who last season featured Judge's AL-leading 52 homers, have added Stanton, who led the NL with 59 bombs. Right away, it would seem that the all-time record for team home runs in a season -- 264 by the 1997 Seattle Mariners -- will be in serious jeopardy, maybe on an annual basis. As it was, New York led the majors with 241 homers last season, the 16th-highest team total in big league history.
However, the team that ranks 17th on that all-time list might be the most pertinent: the 1961 Yankees. That club bashed 240 homers, 115 of them from Roger Maris (61) and Mickey Mantle (54). That's the all-time record for teammates in a season and the only time two players on the same team surpassed 50 bombs each in the same season. That's the kind of expectation Stanton and Judge will face, together, in baseball's most intense fishbowl. Whether you like the Yankees or not, this should be endlessly fun to watch. If anything, the Yankees will be the only team in baseball that could roll out a legit double-tight-end offense.
The Stanton-Judge pairing is among lofty company in its long-ball potential:
If Stanton and Judge had hit all 111 of their 2017 homers for the Yankees, they would have been the second-most prolific tandem in baseball history and just the fifth to crack the century mark. Stanton and former Marlins teammate Marcell Ozuna combined for 96 homers last season, tying Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner of the 1997 Mariners for the seventh-best total. OK, now that we know the top five and No. 7, we'll give you No. 6 too: Griffey and Alex Rodriguez combined for 98 for the Mariners in 1998.
The Griffey-Rodriguez comparison might be the most applicable here because of age. Let's run these long-ball partners and their combined ages when they topped this chart:
Maris (26), Mantle (29): 55 years
Bonds (36), Aurilia (29): 65 years
Ruth (32), Gehrig (24): 56 years
Rodriguez (26), Palmeiro (37): 63 years
Rodriguez (25), Palmeiro (36): 61 years
Griffey (28), Rodriguez (22): 50 years
Stanton (27), Ozuna (26): 53 years
Griffey (27), Buhner (32): 59 years
In official baseball age, Stanton will be 28 next season and Judge 26. That's a combined age of 54 years that suggests they should be at peak production for at least the first few years of their partnership. That's scary enough, but then consider this: According to the three-year park factors in the 2018 Bill James Handbook, Yankee Stadium is the most homer-friendly park in baseball and just a smidge behind Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park for the top venue for righty sluggers.
Now available at the @GoldenNuggetLV sportsbook:— Aaron Kessler (@aaronkessler) December 13, 2017
2018 Regular season only:
Stanton/Judge o/u 86.5 total HRs
Stanton/Judge/Sanchez o/u 115.5 total HRs
Stanton/Judge o/u 335.5 total Ks
It will be interesting to see how Stanton's projections tick up when the switch from baseball's second-worst homer park in Miami to the best in New York is taken into account. According to the Steamer projections published at Fangraphs.com, Stanton already projected to lead the majors with 48 homers. A 50-home run projection is, for lack of a better descriptor, bonkers.
Still, there are a couple of excitement-tempering factors to keep in mind. The first thing is those projections: Stanton and Judge are both coming off what could very well prove to be their career-high homer totals. That isn't a knock: Stanton's 59 homers tied for the ninth-most ever in a season, and Judge's 52 tied for 28th on the all-time list and shattered the record for rookies. As mentioned, Stanton's pre-trade forecast was 48 homers, and the same system pegged Judge for 37. Those are terrific totals, to be sure, but not quite in the Maris-Mantle class.
Also, though the switch in venues certainly won't hurt Stanton, keep in mind that 31 of his 59 homers came at Marlins Park. During the six years Stanton called that venue his home park, he hit 122 homers there and 99 on the road. Perhaps if he had been at Yankee Stadium the whole time, that split might be more like 180 to 99. But that's hard to say. It might simply be that when Stanton connects, it doesn't matter where he's playing. That ball ain't scraping no fences. Indeed, if you look at the landing spots of Stanton's 2017 homers and overlay them onto Yankee Stadium, you don't see any that would have clearly been helped by the park.
The final downer note: Stanton's 159 games played in 2017 were a career high by nine games. Here are his games totals in the five seasons prior to 2017: 123, 116, 145, 74, 119. You certainly can't discount the possibility that Stanton's bad luck with injuries is due to even out over multiple seasons. It's not like he has a hard time staying in shape.
For all of the factors touched on above, it's safe to say we've never seen anything quite like this. In terms of raw power, physical size and strength, age and playing venue, virtually no team has featured the kind of home run potential that the Yankees now have concentrated in just two players, and it will be that way for at least a few years. It would be not at all surprising if one of these seasons, the Stanton-Judge duo turns out to be the most prolific home run duo in the history of baseball.