Friday, 3 February 2012

I LIKE MIKE: STANTON FOR 2012 FANTASY BASEBALL MVP

Although the lights may be off at the old Sun Life Stadium, there’s no lack of power from young Marlin’s outfielder Mike Stanton.

By Sam Milne
Special to "Dear Mr. Fantasy"


With the 2012 fantasy baseball season rapidly approaching, now is the time for diligent managers to begin updating their positional rankings in preparation for draft day. With countless rising young stars, there’s little doubt about who could break out in 2012 with MVP-type production. In similar fashion to Matt Kemp in 2011, young players like Nelson Cruz, Starlin Castro, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Upton should all take the necessary steps towards becoming fantasy superstars. However, in terms of youth, pure talent and overall potential to provide an elite breakout campaign, Miami Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton is strides above the competition.

After delivering upon lofty expectations through his first full big league season, could 2012 be the year Stanton finally rises to fantasy superstardom? We think so. Based on age, current skill progression, proven consistency and raw strength, there’s little reason to believe Stanton won’t blossom into the games next premier young superstar. 

At age 22, Stanton enters his third year in the big leagues, and second full season as the Marlins starting right fielder. Drafted in the second round, 76th overall, Stanton has vastly outperformed every big leaguer hitter selected before him in the 2007 draft. As a 17-year-old outfield prospect, Stanton feasted on minor league pitching and accelerated through the system to the tune of a homerun every 13 at bats. For further comparison to those drafted before him, refer to the illustration below, demonstrating age, draft position and major/minor league numbers:

R2 P76 Mike Stanton (22)- 250 GP, 56 HR, 146 RBI, .261 avg
                                  > MiLB 324 GP, 89 HR, 244 RBI, .274 avg

R1 P21 J.P. Arencibia (26) – 140 MLB GP, 25 HR, 82 RBI, .218 avg
                                  > MiLB 409 GP, 83 HR, 290 RBI, .275 avg
R1 P14 Jason Heyward (22)– 270 GP, 32 HR, 114 RBI, .255 avg
                                  > MiLB 240 GP, 29 HR, 125 RBI. 317 avg
R1 P7         Matt LaPorta (27) – 269 GP, 30 HR, 115 RBI, .231 avg
                                  > MiLB 244 GP, 57 HR, 184 RBI, .298 avg
R1 P5  Matt Weiters (25) – 365 GP, 44 HR, 166 RBI, .265 avg
                                  > MiLB 169 GP, 32 HR, 121 RBI, .343 avg
R1 P2  Mike Moustakas (23) – 89 GP, 5 HR, 30 RBI, .263 avg
                                  > MiLB 439 GP, 84 HR, 335 RBI, .282 avg

In terms of fantasy value, Stanton’s most appealing statistical trend, one that should continue moving forward, is consistent homerun and power production. During his young professional career, including three plus minor league seasons, Stanton has demonstrated the ability to post consistent power statistics across the board. In 324 minor league games, the former top-prospect dropped 89 bombs, accumulated 244 RBI, and posted a .907 OPS in 1195 AB.  Since his June 2010 major league debut, Stanton’s development has progressed in accordance to his minor league dominance and his tremendous potential. Considering his current major league homerun percentage, 5.65, exactly mimics his career minor league HR%, 5.66, it’s difficult to ignore the young outfielders potential for a breakout 2012 season. After hitting 34 homeruns in 150 games in 2011, fourth best among national league sluggers, is it possible those numbers could increase over full fantasy baseball season? Based on what he’s demonstrated so far, there’s no reason to think otherwise.

Considering his youth and limited major league experience, it’s difficult to forecast the young Marlin’s immediate statistics. However, in theory, and based on historical trends, Stanton’s current 5.66 HR% over a 162 game season, should translate into an additional 3 HR and 7 RBI:

-        34 HR/150 GP = .23 HR/GM x 12 games missed = 2.7
-        3.5 avg AB per G x 12 games missed = 42.18 additional AB / 15.17 AB per HR = 2.82
>  additional 2.7 – 2.8 HR

-        87 RBI/150 GP = .58 RBI/GM x 12 = 6.96
-        3.5 avg AB per G x 12 games missed = 42.18 additional AB / 5.92 AB per RBI = 7.12
> additional 6.96 – 7.12 RBI

Had Stanton played a full season in 2011, his homerun totals would be around 37, third best in the N.L. behind only Kemp and Fielder, and his RBI totals would increase to 94, eighth best in the N.L. Not bad for a kid in his first full major league season. Although the above figures are merely rough estimates, it’s conceivable that these numbers could jump even higher in Stanton’s third year in the league, health permitting.

Stanton possesses the type of raw strength, power, and hitting prowess to draw comparisons to Detroit Tigers third basemen, and former young phenom, Miguel Cabrera. At just 22 years old, the young slugger Stanton boasts an average home run distance of 417 feet, nearly twenty feet further than the MLB average, 396 feet. His longest homerun, 474 feet, ranked fifth in 2011, behind veteran sluggers Kemp, Fielder, Pujols and Uggla according to ESPN Home Run Tracker. In addition, the tracker defines three home run types:
-        Just Enough (JE) – cleared the fence by ten vertical feet or less
-        No Doubters (ND) – Cleared the fence by twenty vertical feet and landed 50 feet past fence
-        Plenty (PL) – Everything else

Stanton’s 2010-11 HR by type:

                 JE              ND             PL
2010          6               6               10
2011          7               15*            12

Stanton’s power potential is legitimate. Illustrated by his league leading 15 “no doubters”, his average home run distance of 417 feet is no fluke. These figures also prove his ability to improve his numbers with more experience and games played. After hitting just six ND is 2010, over 100 games, he posted 15 ND in 2011 while limiting his “just enoughs” to a meager seven. Some may wonder whether the Marlins shift to a new, slightly larger, ballpark will hurt his home run production; however, those fears should be silenced after considering: 1.) With Stanton’s strength and current distance per homerun, it shouldn’t matter where he plays, and 2.) The Marlins new stadium is only a fraction larger than Sun Life Stadium. In 2011 Stanton hit 16 HR in 72 home games, compared to 18 HR in 78 road games.



With increased pitcher familiarity and a vastly improved Marlins starting lineup, Stanton should feast on National League pitching. Following quality veteran hitters Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes in the lineup, and batting in front of rising stars Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez, Stanton is the type of second round fantasy draft pick that could provide first round MVP-type stats. Because of the youngsters unmatched power skills, the opportunity for league leading numbers in runs scored, home runs, and runs batted in could be realistic in 2012, as well as improved statistics in batting average, OPS and total bases

Could Stanton encounter a sophomore slump? Of course, anything is possible. But based on historical trends, improving power consistency, rapid development, and improving strength and maturity, we don’t believe he will. While critics will highlight his below average contact rate, high strike out rate and few steals, these are all factor’s of the young man’s game that will continue to improve with pitcher familiarity and big league experience. 

When it comes to Stanton, it’s critical to focus on the fundamental factors contributing most to his success; real power, youth, consistent development, and strong lineup support. As breakout candidates go, it should be clear that Stanton is among the leading nominees for 2012’s Fantasy Baseball MVP. Expect Stanton to take the necessary steps towards placing himself among the league leaders in all major power categories in 2012, and placing trusting owners atop fantasy baseball league standings.

2012 Production Projection: 158 GP, 544 AB, 102 R, 41 HR, 119 RBI, .261 avg. 1.041 OPS, 4 SB

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About the Author: As a player, coach, scout and member of professional front offices, Sam Milne has been around baseball all his life. His passion for the game is without question, and is evident in his fantasy baseball research and analysis.  Need more? Follow his blog, thefantasydugout, for the latest in player analysis, positional rankings and team breakdowns.

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2 comments:

  1. Great post. Here's my question, then. If he's so good, should I pick him first in my baseball draft? I mean, if he's got a chance to be a "fantasy MVP" he should go high, right? Thanks in advance for the help.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Depending on your league size, you may be able to get Stanton in the 2nd round (maybe 3rd, maybe!). One of the key things making a player an MVP is the fact that he will help you win your league. This is best accomplished when you choose a player that performs better than his draft position. His ADP would suggest ~25. I would suggest drafting accordingly.

    Hope that helps!!

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