Crash Bag Vol. 28: The Mighty Contract Of Giancarlo Stanton

The Phillies have not lost a baseball game in almost a week. It’s a good time to be a fan.

@MisterZoomer: I still have faith in Franco being at least league average at 3B. Am I delusional? At what point do I accept this is what he is?

Let’s walk backwards in the Maikel Franco timeline.

The 2017 disaster is about the ground ball. Franco has a .132 average on ground balls this year, and he hits too many for a player of his skill set. No slow-footed hitter is going to excel by killing worms. But there is a large dose of bad luck in this number. The league as a whole has a .249 average (.256 for right-handed batters) on ground balls spanning the last three years. And here are the career marks of some other locomotively-challenged hitters from the right side.

Jose Bautista – .250
Edwin Encarnacion – .206
Salvador Perez – .220
Miguel Cabrera – .275
Yasmany Tomas – .232
Yadier Molina – .223
Yunel Escobar – .224

Franco himself has a .204 mark on the same in his short career. At even that modest average on ground balls Franco would have a wRC+ in the low 90’s this year instead of the undignified 69 he is currently running. That would be more in line with his below average 2016 production.

The step back in 2016 was about the fly ball. Perhaps you can spot the trend.

Year Fly Ball Oppo% Fly Ball Hard% Fly Ball wRC+
2015 28% 43% 210
2016 34% 34% 135
2017 46% 32% 120

Unlike the ground ball issue, this is not about unfortunate luck. It’s likely pitchers adjusted to Franco without him returning the favor. Until he stops sending weak fly balls to the opposite field, he’s not going to get back to that 2015 level of production.

Everything went well for Franco in 2015. He had a .269 average on ground balls. He hit the ball hard in the air. He looked like an offensive force with his exceptional bat speed and 129 wRC+ and room to grow.

The ground ball luck is going to swing both ways. But that can be mitigated by keeping the ball off the ground. And careers have taken off when a player learns how to hit the ball hard in the air. Bautista and Encarnacion can attest to that. It’s on Matt Stairs to draw that out of Franco before the Phillies give up on him.

But you’re not delusional. 2017 is not what he is. And although 2016 is what he might be, 2015 is what he might become.

@viscof1: It’s a crazy rumor, but do you think acquiring Stanton with that contract is worthwhile?

The crazy rumor is Stanton and Yelich being packed into the trunk of a Smart Car in the middle of the night and driven against their will to Philadelphia. To that I offer to pay for the gas. That’s 7-10 wins a season over the next five years. At an AAV of $38.7 million. Best of luck finding that value on the free agent market.

It’s not without some drawbacks. There is an injury history to contemplate. And the matter of the last five years on Stanton’s contract, his age 33-37 seasons at roughly $30 million per. With the taste of an aging and overpriced slugger fresh off the palettes of Phillies fans everywhere, the hesitation is understandable. But that contract panned out as about the worst case scenario. I’d still anticipate negative value in Stanton’s out years, but that’s the reason this crazy rumor was ever mentioned to begin with. It’s the cost of getting two very good players for the next five years.

And look how those two good players accelerate the competitive timeline of the Phillies. Here is your second half lineup, replete with rest-of-season projections from Fangraphs.

Yelich LF – 114 wRC+
Altherr CF – 95
Stanton RF – 139
Hoskins 1B – 118
Franco 3B – 100
Hernandez 2B – 90
Galvis SS – 78
Knapp C – 77

The Phillies would enter the offseason with a better than average offense, a large pile of money, and a small army of prospects. It would make for an interesting winter and some long-awaited competitive baseball in 2018. Would you say no to that?

CPTGunch: If you could Tinder the Phillies, who would you swipe right on?

Who do I keep in the organization based entirely on their baseball mugshots?

Tommy Joseph – This guy has clearly been around the game for a long, long time. You can almost hear the “back in my day” he fits into every baseball conversation. But this dispenser of baseball wisdom looks like he has an unwavering devotion to the old school that makes him more of an amiable bench coach than a managerial candidate.

Luis Garcia – Intimidating? Check. Unruly Beard? Check. This is your closer. But seriously, has this guy ever heard of a barber?

Ty Kelly – He has the look of an experienced batboy.

Hoby Milner – We’ll need a backup for Ty Kelly because his parents still don’t let him go on road trips.

Aaron Altherr – Look at that smile. It’s uplifting. We need more of that in this drag of a season when nothing seems to be going our way. It’s inspiring to see that level of enjoyment for the game. Although something is amiss. He looks a little too happy to be playing for the 2017 Phillies. There must be something he’s not telling us. Is he taunting me with that smile? I don’t trust him. Can I re-swipe?

Andrew Knapp – I can only presume that shady mustache was grown in the back of a windowless van. Put him somewhere on the baseball field. Anywhere on the baseball field. Keep as many eyes as possible glued to him at all times. Actually, I’m reassigning Luis Garcia to follow him everywhere he goes.

Those are all the approvals I’m willing to give. It seems the only players I’ve put on the baseball field are a creepy mustache and his chaperone. Oh well. There’s always free agency.


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  1. Eddie

    July 14, 2017 09:53 PM

    I think I would say no to Stanton and Yelich … mostly because I assume they’d want a haul of players/prospects. Stanton’s contract is bad, IMO, but it isn’t so bad right now that they have to throw in Yelich just to get someone to take it. The Phils would have to give up several useful parts … say Altherr, Cozens, Kilome and Eshelman or something like that. Improving 7-10 wins is great, but still leaves a sub-.500 team that is realistically waiting until 2019 or even 2020 to contend … at which point Stanton is now 30 and declining and the really bad part of the contract is beginning.

    If they can just get Yelich, that’s great. Between Herrera, Altherr, Williams, Cozens, Quinn, they have a lot of guys to sort through in the other two spots. If Stanton’s contract looks attractive in 2019, I suspect he’ll be available, cheaply, then anyway.

    Also NB: unless you’re painting, the word you want is “palate.”

    • Steve

      July 16, 2017 09:02 PM

      I agree with you. The prospect haul they would want in return is scary. Im not sure your scenario even scratches the surface. Depending, ofcourse, on how they value individual players I could see them wanting Hassley, Sixto, one of Kilome/Eshelman, one of Crawford/Moniak plus a handful of lower level prospects

    • Greg

      July 18, 2017 06:03 PM

      I tend to agree, but when you look at the long list of prospect the phillies have traded over the years, even the “untouchables,” who do you really miss? Remember when Michael Taylor and Dom Brown were untouchable? Kyle Drabek? There have been the occasional Gio Gonzalezes, but I think anyone short of Crawford you do the deal. Or if they’re really down on Crawford, throw him in as well. I don’t know if it’s moreso than with other teams, but the Phillies have had very few prospects who they traded and later came back to haunt them.

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