ATLANTA -- Just how bad are things going for Giancarlo Stanton? This bad: Justin Ruggiano, who has gone hitless over his past 38 at bats and is closing in on a major league record for futility, is starting in his place tonight.
"Believe me, it's not a perfect situation," said manager Mike Redmond.
Stanton has gone 3 for 17 on the road trip and is hitting only .125 in August. With only 13 home runs, there's a real chance he might not even finish the season with as many as 20. Even taking into consideration that he missed five weeks of the season with a hamstring injury, it's unfathomable to think one of baseball's star sluggers might not even get to 20.
Some of his other splits are just as startling. Stanton has a home OPS of 1.041. On the road: .586. He's hitting .302 at Marlins Park, but only .186 everywhere else. But he's been looking really lost at the plate in recent weeks.
"It just seems like he's really grinding and not having a whole lot of fun out there," Redmond said of his slumping slugger. "I think he's just frustrated, and I feel like he's trying to do too much. He understands how important he is to this lineup. At the same time, he's one guy. He can't do everything. He can't carry the offense. I think, maybe, sometimes he tries to do that. He's just got to do his part."
It wasn't lost on Redmond that Ruggiano is also mired in a pronounced slump. Ruggiano's last hit: a second-inning single off the Braves Mike Minor on June 6. The major league record for most consecutive hitless at bats by a position player -- 46 -- belongs to Eugenio Velez. Velez set the mark in 2011 by going 0 for 37 with the Dodgers. (Bill Bergen in 1909, Dave Campbell in 1973 and Craig Counsell in 2011 each had hitless streaks of 45 at bats).
"Rouge is due," Redmond said of Ruggiano. "We need to get some hits out of him."
So it's no surprise that the Marlins are the second-youngest team in the majors with an average age of 27 years and 121 days. Or that the Houston Astros, who own the worst record in the majors, are the youngest at 26 years and 14 days.
What some may find surprising is this: the Braves, who are riding a 14-game winning streak and own the best record in the majors, are the third-youngest team: 27 years and 160 days. Fourth-youngest: the Pirates of Pittsburgh, who have the second-best record in the majors. Fifth-youngest: the St. Louis Cardinals, who have the sixth-best record.
"We have a young team, but we have a young team that's been around already," said Braves pitcher Kris Medlen, who -- at only 27 -- is the oldest member of Atlanta's starting rotation. "We're young, but they've grown up."