The fascinating tale of Giancarlo Stanton, a slugger who bats second

 

He’s been doing it most of the season and still I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the idea of Giancarlo Stanton batting second in the Miami Marlins lineup.

Through Monday’s game he had 57 home runs, the most in the majors, and seems bound for 60 in what remains of the season. Do you know how many 60-homer men have ever batted No. 2 in the lineup during their historic season?

None.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton stands with boys before a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Most often the legendary sluggers have batted in the third spot. If not there, it’s usually cleanup. But second?

Marlins manager Don Mattingly moved Stanton there from the cleanup spot on May 23 in a desperate attempt to shake the offense loose for a team that was off to a 15-28 start. Stanton himself needed some fixing at that point. He was chasing too many bad pitches and striking out way too much in an attempt to turn games around on one mighty swing.

Concentrating more on contact behind leadoff hitter Dee Gordon, Stanton began to drive balls in every direction and many of those times right over the wall. He had 11 homers prior to the switch in what admittedly was just a slice of the season. The other 46 have come from the No. 2 spot, and there’s no reason to change it now.

Here, with data scrapped together from the voluminous Baseball-Reference.com website, are the batting positions of the players who hit 60 homers in one season, plus Stanton.

 

Barry Bonds, 73 homers in 2001 – 136 games in the No. 3 spot, 11 games at No. 4

Mark McGwire, 70 homers in 1998 – 152 games in the No. 3 spot

Sammy Sosa, 66 homers in 1998 – 121 games at No. 3, 38 at No. 4

Mark McGwire, 65 homers in 1999 – 150 games in the No. 3 spot

Sammy Sosa, 64 homers in 2001 – 141 games in the No. 3 spot, 19 at No. 4

Sammy Sosa, 63 homers in 1999 – 84 games in the No. 3 spot, 78 at No. 4

Roger Maris, 61 homers in 1961 – 139 at No. 3, 10 at No. 7, 7 at No. 5, 3 at No. 4, 1 at No. 6

Babe Ruth, 60 homers in 1927 – 157 games in the No. 3 spot

Giancarlo Stanton, 57 homers in 2017 – 105 games in the No. 2 spot, 35 at No. 4, 7 at No. 5, 1 at No. 3

 

Mattingly has been all over the place with his lineup this season but the most commonly used order has been Gordon leading off, Stanton hitting second, Christian Yelich hitting third and Marcell Ozuna batting cleanup.

It hasn’t stopped Stanton from piling up 126 RBI, and Ozuna is right behind at 118.

Hey, Mattingly tried something different and Stanton was willing to give it a shot, with admirable results. Takes some guts to roll something like this out there in the first place because every old-schooler is going to say that it’s crazy.

Whether Derek Jeter agrees once he is approved as the Marlins co-owner or even wants to keep Mattingly as manager, the concept of experimenting with lineups is not new to him. Jeter batted ninth in his major-league debut and showed up just about everywhere else during his career, including leadoff and cleanup.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has batted second in 24 games this season. The majority of his starts have come in the No. 3 spot, with 61 games there, but apparently nothing about this game is written in stone anymore.

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