The boo birds were out in full force during Giancarlo Stanton’s Yankee Stadium debut. They will soon be an afterthought in what aims to be a landmark season for the newest Yankee slugger.
Four at-bats into Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Giancarlo Stanton had amassed eight strikeouts in his last nine plate appearances, five in a row during a Yankee Stadium debut when Stanton was greeted with his fair share of boos, jeers, and aspersions. Thanks to Didi Gregorius’s monster day at the plate—4-for-4 with two homers and eight RBI, the most by any player ever in a home opener—Stanton’s unforgettable debut was all but forgotten in an 11-4 Yankee win, their third of the season.
However, in Stanton’s first at-bat on Wednesday, the left fielder removed a rather large proverbial monkey from his back, launching a 458-foot shot at 117.5 MPH off his bat, the longest and hardest shot measured by Statcast in this young season, to give New York an early 2-1 lead in the first inning. Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge added blasts of their own, their first homers of the season, making this the first of likely many times the three will homer together in the same game.
And it was Stanton who lead the charge.
Despite his relative woes early on, Stanton is hovering near a 1.000 OPS in the season’s first six games and has already yielded the best and the worst of what the Yankee Stadium crowd can offer in little over a twenty-four hour period. Already though has Stanton endeared himself to the press and the fans, remarking of yesterday’s hero Didi Gregorius: “He picked me up today. That’s what a cleanup hitter does – cleans up the garbage in front of him.”
If you booed this guy today, you better stay seated when he goes off for multiple dingers at the Stadium sometime soon. HE was pressing today to impress YOU and your impossible standards. Grow up and take your self-entitled ways to another club. pic.twitter.com/vpP1fTanW0
— Bryan Pol (@Bryan_Polettino) April 4, 2018
The worst part about the Stanton experience thus far is how quickly a fickle fanbase turned on him after an offseason and spring of touting his arrival, purchasing his jerseys and shirts, and wondering what it can mean to see him star opposite Aaron Judge as a modern day Mantle and Maris en route to a possible 28th World Series title. Honestly, shame on the fans for giving Stanton a far too early and undeserved Bronx treatment just hours into his home debut, especially given his behemoth 2017 MVP campaign that eclipsed even the excitement of Judge’s Rookie of the Year season.
Unlike Judge, Stanton is not exactly a volume strikeout hitter: in 692 plate appearances last year, Stanton had 163 punchouts to Judge’s major league-leading 208 Ks in 678 plate appearances, 14 less than Stanton. What Yankee fans are witnessing early on with Stanton, clearly pressing knowing he is in New York now and not Miami, is an aberration that he is likely to rectify sooner rather than later.
Hitting that first Yankee Stadium homerun to the sound of raucous applause ought to help make that a reality.