How many home runs will Mike Stanton hit next season? It's a fascinating question, and one that is being asked often in the wake of the Dan Uggla trade. Can Stanton make up for the loss of Uggla's steady home run power?
We already know that manager Edwin Rodriguez intends to bat Stanton in Uggla's old cleanup spot, and we all know The Big Worm possesses big-time power. Stanton hit 22 home runs with the Marlins after being called up in June and, combined with his minor-league numbers, totaled 43 on the season. But, can his home run output of 40+ over a split minors/majors season translate to the same number -- or closely similar -- over the course of a full major league season, and next season in particular?
History suggests Stanton, at age 21, has his work cut out. Only two players in major league history (Source: baseball-reference.com) have hit as many as 40 home runs when they were 21 or younger: Mel Ott, who hit 42 as a 20-year-old in 1929, and Eddie Mathews, who hit 47 as a 21-year-old in 1953. After that, the best individual home run seasons by players 21 or younger belong to Frank Robinson (38 HRs at age 20 in 1956), Albert Pujols (37 HRs at age 21 in 2001) and Alex Rodriguez (36 HRs as a 20-year-old in 1996).
Bill James, in the 2011 Bill James Handbook, projects Stanton to hit 38 next season. That's not 40, but it's hardly chump change, either. And it could be a sign of great things to come for Stanton if he reaches that number. It would certainly place him in lofty company. After all, Ott, Mathews and Robinson ended up in the Hall of Fame, and Pujols and Rodriguez are headed in that direction.
MARLINS CLOSING IN ON CHOATE? -- As our own Barry Jackson mentioned this morning, and FoxSports' Ken Rosenthal advanced later, the Marlins might have their eyes set on Randy Choate to fill that lefty relief spot they've been seeking. Rosenthal said that the Marlins are "working to sign" the 35-year-old pitcher, who appeared in an American League-leading 85 games last season for the Tampa Bay Rays, He's your typical one- to two-batter situational lefty, having totaled only 44 2/3 innings for the Rays in '10. Left-handed batters hit just .202 against Choate last season. Right-handers: .410.